February 2022 PSA Grading Recap

  • PSA graded 750,723 items during February - down 3% from January.
  • However, the daily average volume was up 7% (during the short month) and PSA set a record for weekly volume with 235k cards graded the week of 2/14.
  • The PSA backlog now sits at roughly 5.4 million cards.
  • TCG/Pokemon was back on top as the most graded category.
Published March 2nd, 2022

PSA output declined 3% compared to January '22 - with 750,723 items graded during the month

  • PSA graded 750,723 items during February - down 3% from January - during the shorter month
  • However, the daily average volume was up 7% and PSA set a record for weekly volume with 235k cards graded the week of 2/14
  • The PSA backlog now sits at roughly 5.4 million cards
  • PSA posted seven days with 40,000+ output - equal to the total in January
  • Average output per day was 26,812 items graded (+7% compared to January)

Cards manufactured during or after 2010 made up 72% of the items graded for the second consecutive month

Gem rates as a whole were flat (vs January) at 44%

  • The gem rate across all items graded was 44% in February (vs 44% in January, 42% in December, 38% in November, 38% in October, 43% in September and 40% in August).
  • Of the top 100 cards graded, 47% saw an improvement in the gem rate during February compared to January.
  • The gem rate for 2019 Prizm basketball was flat again in February at 58%. We highlight 2019 Prizm basketball as one of many proxies to gauge overall gem rate trends

Category Summary

TCG/Pokemon reclaimed its spot as the most graded category

  • Only TCG, football, and non-sport cards increased in February

Set Summary

1999 Pokemon Game jumps back to the top of the list

  • 1999 Pokemon Game moved back into the top spot and 2020 Prizm football made the largest move
  • New to the list in February: 2019 Pokemon Sword & Shield Vivid Voltage
  • Falling off the list: 2018 Prizm basketball

Player Summary

Charizard and Pikachu top the most graded players/subjects chart on the strength of Pokemon as whole

  • Charizard and Pikachu topped the lists again as Pokemon grading activity remains elevated
  • Mew (TCG) and Fernando Tatis Jr. moved onto the list in February while Tyler Herro and Bo Bichette dropped off

Card Summary

Very little change to the list of top cards that remains dominated by Pokemon and 2020 Topps baseball

  • Jumping onto the list in February: 2020 Prizm Joe Burrow #307
  • Dropping from the list: 2019 Mosaic Zion Williamson #209

What's Next?

  • Despite having one of the strongest positions in the hobby, PSA does not appear to be immune to the hobby slump witnessed over the past twelve months. PSA just finished a fourth straight month with total cards graded in the 700k range. While a strong number from where PSA was a year ago, the rate of growth has been very modest compared to expectations and investments made by the company.
  • Per the below, the company had at one point been hoping to reach a run rate of 20 million cards graded at some point in 2022. However, recent comments suggest a 15 million run rate could now be difficult to achieve this year. The company’s most recent pace is around 10-11 million cards.
    • In an interview last November, Nat Turner mentioned that he had hoped PSA daily output would be nearly double the roughly 40k cards per day they were doing at that time. That would equal a run rate of 20 million cards annually.
    • In the most recent PSA Pod, Turner mentioned that he hoped PSA could exit the year with grading output up 50% from current levels - which would translate to 15-16 million annually - and also said hitting that target would be difficult.
  • PSA recently announced its new facility in NJ which will ramp up capacity this year before becoming fully operational at some point in 2023. While any near-term swings will continue to cast doubt on the future of the hobby…there are two hobby behemoths between Fanatics and Collectors that made large investments at the height of the pandemic boom and are highly incentivized to encourage long-term sustained growth.
  • We hope (and are excited) to see more innovation out of Collectors and PSA this year as the challenge shifts from managing the backlog to building and sustaining future interest in the hobby.