Nearly one in five of all sales by LAPADA dealers are now online, according to the fine art and antique dealer association’s latest survey, covering 2011.
That's almost twice the global average and
just one of the statistics polled in a wide-ranging study that
shows members are relatively bullish about prospects for business
To appreciate how far things have come with
the internet, LAPADA's 2007 survey polled only 7% of sales being
made online. Having said that, there were still 21% of the
respondents in 2011 who made no sales online at all.
The survey, conducted by international art
market analysts Arts Economics, secured replies from over 15% of
the membership, which stands at around 550, and found that, on
average, sales enjoyed a gross profit margin of 37%.
Most encouragingly, an overwhelming majority
held a positive outlook for the year ahead, with over half
expecting sales to at least match those in 2011. While 28% of
respondents anticipated somewhat higher or significantly higher
sales, only 6% feared significantly lower sales for the period.
Business at the top end had held up since
2010, with 6.4% of respondents reporting total sales of between £3m
and £5m for both years, while those enjoying sales of between £1m
and £3m rose from 10.3% to 17.9%. Below this, however, average
turnover fell, with 10% fewer dealers taking between £500,000 and
£1m than in the previous year.
Despite all the headlines given to Far
Eastern buyers over the past year or so, it is American clients who
remain pre-eminent in importance to LAPADA dealers, accounting for
nearly a quarter of all sales by value, followed by UK buyers at
20%. There is a considerable gap between them and the next most
important nationality, Australians, who accounted for 8.4% of sales
Meanwhile 72% of all business is still
conducted within the UK.
The survey also revisits the Artist's Resale
Right. Around 90% of all respondents deal in at least some form of
fine art, although most are involved in areas that have not been
affected by ARR until now, with only around 20% saying they had
made payments. There is some evidence of dealers moving away from
trading in works by living artists since 2010, but it is not clear
whether this is significant. Average royalties paid dropped from
£1750 to £750 over the period.
What is more of a concern, however, is the
far greater number of works traded that were by artists who have
died within the last 70 years and, as of January 1, 2012, qualify
for ARR. The average number of such works sold per dealer in 2011
was 58, with the sales accounting for 23% of average turnover for
the year. LAPADA called the anticipated effects for the coming year
The average time per transaction given for
administering ARR is 68 minutes.
When asked whether they had specific issues
or difficulties with administering, paying or dealing with ARR,
responses ranged from "None so far. Wait for it" to "Too many to
list" and "No sales but still have to deal with their
The main focus of the survey, however, was
the internet. Dealers who did not sell online gave a number of
reasons for avoiding the internet. These ranged from "stock not
suitable" and "not our way of doing business" to "I get enquiries
but they never bear fruit" and "the difficulties of sending pieces
There is still a feeling among some dealers
that clients won't buy without handling pieces first and among
others that they simply don't have the time to develop a web option
for sales. There are others, however, who are working on improving
their internet presence as a trading platform.
As buyers, meanwhile, dealers have been far
more active across the board when it comes to the web, with 66% of
respondents saying they had purchased stock via the internet in the
past 12 months. The 34% who had not gave the same broad range of
reasons for not doing so as they gave for their own clients not
buying from them via the internet.
LAPADA chief executive Sarah Percy-Davis
expects to spend much of the coming year trying to persuade
non-converts that internet trading is an essential part of future
"In the coming year LAPADA, in responding to
feedback from members, will be focussing its efforts on promoting
our members online, thus raising the association's profile globally
as well as promoting our industry as a whole to the home market,"
And she added: "We have already acted on our dealers' requests
for more help with regards to internet business, as we have already
announced a significant deal to benefit LAPADA members with the
leading web marketplace 1stdibs."