Pawnbroker H&T Group boosted by cost of living crisis

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Pawnbroker H&T Group boosted by cost of living crisis as people forced to cash in on prized possessions

Record numbers are pawning valuable assets as the cost of living crisis takes its toll.

Britain’s biggest pawnbroker said the level of “pawnbrokers” – where customers borrow money for valuables including watches and jewelery – is at an all-time high.

H&T Group’s business update has highlighted how families are struggling to make ends meet as they grapple with soaring food and energy bills.

Desperate times: Pawnbroker H&T Group says the level of ‘pawnbroking’, where customers borrow money for valuables including watches and jewelry, is at an all-time high

Inflation is at 9.1%, its highest level in 40 years, and the UK is facing the biggest drop in living standards since records began in 1956.

Families are also struggling with energy bills which have jumped 54% – an average of £693 – this year.

They are expected to jump a further £800, to an average of £2,800 a year, when energy regulator Ofgem raises the price cap in October.

And the rise in food prices could reach 15% this summer, according to a report by food research firm IGD. H&T – founded in London in 1897 – said yesterday that demand for pawnbrokers had been accelerating since the start of the year, with volumes 40% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The group’s pledge book at the end of June stood at £84.2m, up from £48.3m a year earlier.

Shore Capital analyst Gary Greenwood said the growing demand “reflects the impact of the cost of living crisis”.

He added that if current trends continue, H&T’s pledge book could reach £100m by the end of the year as “the cost of living crisis is likely to support strong demand continues to provide pawnbroking services”.

H&T shares jumped 3.4%, or 11p, to 332.5p yesterday.

They have climbed more than 16% this year as the economic outlook deteriorated following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He is worth £133m, more than double the £54m he floated at in 2006.

Greenwood said, “Their customers are generally lower-segment people who find it difficult to obtain financing from traditional banks.”

Pawnbroking is one of the few places they can borrow. Their finances are relatively tighter than most right now and they need the money. One way to achieve this is to borrow against a pledgeable item.

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