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Market Research Report

U.S. Pawnshops: An Industry Analysis

Published by Marketdata LLC Product code 241470
Published Content info 111 Pages
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U.S. Pawnshops: An Industry Analysis
Published: May 18, 2012 Content info: 111 Pages

Print or digital format. Also sold by individual chapters.

Pawn shops in the United States now number about 11,000+ and growing, and constituted a $14.5 billion industry last year. The business is fragmented and not dominated by large national chains. The industry appears to be almost recession-proof, as the ranks of the “unbanked” consumer continue to grow. Pawn shops provide a service that traditional banks cannot - short term loans for small amounts of money. These “alternative financial services” operations are more complex than meets the eye, and must conform to strict regulations.

The industry has benefitted from soaring gold prices, coupled with positive publicity via the popular reality TV show called Pawn Stars. The study explores why growth at pawn shops has been steady, even through the “great recession”. The industry's image has changed and pawn shops are considered more mainstream as even affluent consumers now use them to raise quick cash. Even Beverly Hills and Palm Beach have pawn shops, that discreetly serve the rich.

This new study by Marketdata examines the nature of the business, reasons for the recent growth of pawn shops, national receipts/growth from 1999-2011, 2012 to 2016 forecasts, average store revenues, customer demographics, key industry trends, federal/state industry regulation/fee caps, gold prices and gold buying/scrap sales, consumer debt levels and more. Includes chapter on extensive pawn shop operating ratios from the Census Bureau surveys. Findings of research studies by: Federal Reserve, FDIC, Georgetown University, brokerage analysts, National Pawnbroker's Assn., U.S. Census Bureau and more.

This study is believed to be one of the few in-depth publicly available business analyses that exists of this market. 3 in-depth company profiles are provided for: Cash America, EZCorp., and First Cash Financial.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction: Study Scope, Sources, Methodology

Executive Overview of Major Findings ($250)

  • Description of how pawn loans work, nature of the business, number of pawn shops/growth, reasons for growth
  • Major market trends and issues: positive image via reality TV shows, government scrutiny of payday lending, lack of small loans by banks, strong rise in gold prices, etc.
  • Discussion of reasons for growth of non-bank services, population living below the poverty level.
  • Pawn shop customer demographics/profile
  • Factors affecting demand: state of consumer household finances, recession, rising gold prices
  • Market $ size and growth: 1999-2016 forecast, performance during 2008-2009 recession, 2010 -2011 recovery, outlook for 2012-2016
  • Industry operating ratios: Census data- 2002 and 2007: receipts, no. of pawn shops, average receipts per shop, payroll costs, no. of employees
  • Top three pawn shop chains: Cash America, EZ Corp, First Cash Financial: 2010-2011 revenues .

Nature of the Business($100 )

  • Earliest form of consumer lending, brief history
  • Highly fragmented industry that is concentrated in the southeast and southwestern portions of the U.S.
  • The pawn loan process - discussion.
  • Related services (layaway, title loans, tax refund loans, gold buying, check cashing - description of each)
  • Number of pawn shops in the U.S.: 1989-2011
  • Emerging industry trends: discussion of decline in number of pawn shops, rebound, pending anti-payday lending legislation (state actions)
  • Analysis of gold prices: 1999-2012, gold buying by pawn shops, scrap sales, competition with gold buyers.


  • Historical price of gold per ounce: 1999-2012

Customer Demographics & Demand Factors ($200 )

  • Review of the Georgetown University Credit Research Center study - major findings (by age, race, gender, income, etc.)
  • Discussion of industry growth drivers
  • Findings of National Pawnbrokers Association report “Pawnbroking Industry Overview”
  • Discussion of the “unbanked” population, 20 major findings of 2009 FDIC survey (number of households, by race, by region, by income, by education, by marital status, by age, reasons why households don't have a bank account)
  • Trends in consumer debt and delinquencies: type of debt, reasons for rise, debt service payments relative to family income, shift in type of debt
  • Bankruptcy trends: chapter 7, 11, 13 - discussion of no. of filings in 2001-2012, filings by state/region
  • Foreclosure trends: discussion of foreclosures in 2011-2012, foreclosure rates, findings of Mortgage Bankers Association
  • Findings of Federal Reserve “Survey of Consumer Finances”.


  • Market potentials of the major segments of alternative financial services industry (check cashing, money transfer, pawn shops, payday loan services)
  • Consumer credit outstanding and household fixed obligation ratios: 1992-2011
  • Debt payments relative to family income: 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007
  • U.S. non-commercial bankruptcies, by type: 1991-2011
  • U.S. population living below the poverty level: 1990-2011.

Regulation of the Industry ($50)

  • Review of state regulations.
  • Review of federal regulations.
  • Discussion of Bank Secrecy Act, Money Laundering Suppression Act, USA Patriot Act, Gramm-Leach- Bliley Act

Table: State Regulations on Pawnshop Interest Rates and Fees

Industry Size, Growth, Forecasts ($200)

  • Industry revenues and number of projected stores for 1999 through 2012 - analysis, sources of industry size estimates
  • Findings of interviews with heads of state pawn associations: discussion of gold prices/scrap selling/gold buyers, effects of the recession, customer profile, merchandise sales
  • 2010-2013 F $ revenues/growth projections for: Cash America, EZCorp, First Cash Financial, by stock analysts
  • Discussion/estimates of avg. revenue per pawn shop
  • 2008-2009 $ size of mkt. - performance during the recession
  • 2010-2011 $ size of mkt. - performance during the recovery
  • 2012 outlook $ size of mkt.
  • 2016 long-term forecast, $ size of mkt., rationale


  • Industry receipts, annual % change: 1999-2016 F
  • Population per pawn shop, by state.

Industry Structure & Operating Ratios ($200)

2007 vs. 2002 Census Survey Data

In-depth analysis of 2007 U.S. Census of Services Industries: total industry receipts; receipts by size of firm; revenues by source of receipts; legal form of organization; industry concentration ratios; single and multi-unit operations; geographic analysis by state and standard metropolitan area


  • No. of Firms, Establishments, $ Receipts, No. of employees: 2002, 2007
  • Pawn shop Industry Receipts, Annual Payroll and No. of Employees: 2002, 2007
  • Pawn shop Establishments: Average Receipts, Payroll, and Number of Employees: 2002, 2007
  • Pawn shop Receipts, by Size of Firm: 2007, 2002
  • Pawn shop Receipts, by Size of Establishment: 2007, 2002
  • Pawn shops Industry, Sources of Receipts: 2007, 2002
  • Pawn shops Establishments and Receipts, by Legal Form of Organization: 2007, 2002 (corporation, partnership, sole proprietor)
  • Pawn shop Concentration Ratios (mkt. share), By Estab. Size: 2002
  • Pawn shop Ratios, by Single Unit vs. Multi-unit Firms: 2007, 2002
  • Pawn shops, Ranked By Receipts, By State: 2007
  • Pawn shops, Ranked By No. of Establishments By State: 2007
  • Pawn shops, Ranked By No. of Estabs. for the 50 Largest Cities: 2007

Competitor Profiles ($250)

In-Depth Profiles (Headquarters location, services, recent acquisitions, payday loan business, detailed 2007-2011 financials, revenues by type, foreign markets, profit margins, outlook and strategies).

  • Cash America International, Inc.
  • EZCORP, Inc.
  • First Cash Financial Services


  • The major pawn shop chains: Number of retail outlets, U.S. pawn shops, 2010 and 2011 revenues.

Reference Directory of Trade Associations & Other Sources

  • Address, phone, contacts for major trade groups, consultants, list of industry studies and articles, Wall Street analysts/research reports.

Table: State Pawnbroker Associations - contacts and phones.

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