ISMAIL SABRI’S ‘KELUARGA MALAYSIA’ JUST FOR SHOW – CASH-STRAPPED NON-MALAYS TURN TO PAWNSHOPS AS PRICES OF DAILY GOODS SKYROCKET

Cash-strapped folk turn to pawnshops as prices of daily goods rise

BUSINESS volume at pawnshops has gone up by 30% in the last three months as those in dire straits turn to these outlets for quick cash, business owners said.

Though economic activities have resumed, people are feeling the pinch from the effect of the Covid-19 epidemic and the skyrocketing prices of daily goods, they said.

Others, however, said the numerous subsidies and economic stimulus packages provided by the government meant there was no need for people to turn to pawnshops.

Tan Wang Chang, owner of two pawnshops in Johor Baru, said business in both outlets has gone up by 30% in the past three months.

One of Tan’s shops in Taman Daya in Johor is a drive-through pawn shop, the first of its kind in Malaysia.

Gold jewellery makes up the highest number of items pawned, followed by branded watches and handbags, he said.

Tan said his customers are also getting younger in age, some as young as 25 years’ old.

When asked if those who pawned items would fail to come back for them later, Tan said it was not likely.

“For example, since school is starting, they may pawn their items due to late pay. But once they have been paid, they will come back to redeem them.”

Prices of essential goods such as vegetables have gone up by almost 200%, meaning Malaysians will have to fork out more to eat their favourite vegetables.

Other items that are expected to cost more in the coming weeks include cooking oil and rice, among others.

Even the prices of coffee and other beverages at coffee shops and traditional Chinese medicines are expected to rise come January.

Pawnshop owner Tan Wang Chang says gold jewellery makes up the highest number of items pawned, followed by branded watches and handbags. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 10, 2021.
Pawnshop owner Tan Wang Chang says gold jewellery makes up the highest number of items pawned, followed by branded watches and handbags. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 10, 2021.

A clerk at a pawn shop in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur who only wants to be identified as Wong, said people who are in financial hardship do not just rely on pawnshops for a quick fix.

“People used to go to pawnshops when they were in need of quick cash but now competition is stiff. There are money lenders too.

“Their procedure is more convenient and the conditions attract borrowers, especially young people.”

Government aid helpful

Tan Ho Keng, president of the Malaysia Pawnbrokers Association, meanwhile, said despite the epidemic, people still have cash in hand due to the various government subsidies.

“Pawnshops are indicators of one’s financial situation. After the economic sector reopened, people have returned to work, while those eligible received government assistance or have withdrawn from their retirement savings.

“All that means our business has not increased but remained at a normal level.”

From March to October this year, pawnbrokers reported that their business volume dropped by 40% due to movement restrictions but has since bounced back in the last two months, he added.

“This new wave may just be people trying to keep up with the high cost of living.”

THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

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