The British Antique Dealer’s Association (BADA) this week published the results of its annual membership survey, where one of the key findings was that total sales of BADA members are up by 22% from last year, at an estimated £855 million per annum. Evidently, dealers of higher-priced works are continuing to thrive, with continuing opportunities to sell to the very rich, particularly at the major London and overseas fairs.
However, whilst as many as 73% of members reported static or improved turnovers, by definition a considerable number (27%) reported a decrease in sales. In particular, some dealers located away from London and the Home Counties have had a hard time, with dealers in five out of seven UK regions reporting a decline in sales. The survey also showed a staggering disparity between different disciplines; dealers in Asian art works, silver and jewellery, who already tend to have turnovers in the higher bands, are reporting among the highest increases in sales, whilst disciplines such as ceramics and glass appear more muted. The buoyancy of the Asian art market, in particular, was evident, with only 6% of dealers in this field reporting a decrease in sales and 71% reporting annual turnover in excess of £500,000.
Another aspect of the survey investigated the extent to which BADA members depend on the internet for business; whilst 61% reported making sales via the internet, the proportion of all sales made in this way by the membership as a whole is still relatively low, at just 6% – representing some £11 million of sales annually. It has been suggested in other reports that the proportion of sales made by the antiques trade through the internet is larger (the LAPADA 2011 membership survey, for example, suggested that on average 19% of sales made by dealers were online), but BADA itself has no evidence of this.
Commenting on the survey, BADA Secretary General, Mark Dodgson, said:
“The results of our most recent survey repeat the positive message for the majority of members that we found last time. That more members have posted high annual sales is good news, but I am conscious that even within BADA’s membership dealers are not a homogeneous group. For every three dealers who may be holding their own, and in some cases flourishing, there is probably one dealer who is finding business very tough.
“Whether encumbered by high rents, high rates, Artist’s Resale Right or a lack of stock, everyone is having to work that bit harder and to chase customers in a very targeted way. For those who succeed the rewards can indeed be considerable, as some dealers have found this summer, but this does not apply to all.
“We also hope that more members will harness the relatively inexpensive medium of the internet. Although 86% of members have a website it is disappointing that only 61% manage to achieve any sales via the internet. The BADA’s own website is in the process of being improved, which I hope will encourage members to think about their own sites, and I will be making further announcements about the internet in the Autumn.”