The Eurispes Rapporto Italia 2013 report showed that 28.1 percent of Italians are using ‘buy gold’ shops, up from 8.5 percent a year ago.
“The recent economic crisis has reduced the purchasing power of families and businesses and the possibility to access credit,” the Guardia di Finanza (Italy's financial police) said in a statement.
“This is one of the reasons that, sometimes, the most needy people prefer to sell gold and silver to get cash immediately, or use different means to the banking system.”
The police are also cracking down on the illegal gold trade, including smuggling and money-laundering operations.
So far 179kg of gold has been seized since the start of the year, an increase of 86 percent in a year.
At Easter a 53-year-old Swiss resident was caught smuggling 110kg of gold while travelling with his wife and three young children.
So far this year 52 people have been arrested for trafficking precious metals.
In July an entire family was arrested after they were caught stealing precious metals from traveller camps and turning the stolen goods into gold bars. They were then sold, to the tune of €32 million.