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From paddle to mouse – the relentless revolution

26 March 2012Written by Tom Derbyshire

BUSINESS is really booming when it comes to the world of live online auctions.

Auctioneers at all levels say they are experiencing significantly rising demand and are reaping the rewards of soaring interest from bidders using their keyboards instead of attending in person.

A report for ATG's sister business the-saleroom.com underlines this trend, showing that such sales by value have almost doubled in just a year.

In February 2011 successful live bids online via the-saleroom.com platform totalled £1,812,063, but by February 2012 this figure had shot up to £3,492,443, a 92.7% rise.

The proportion of total lots sold live online also rose from 25 to 27% on average, but that is in the context of soaring overall volumes - there were 13,897 lots sold online last February and 25,129 a year later, showing a leap of 80.8% - so in real terms the number of lots sold online has come close to doubling in that time.

The number of the-saleroom.com live auction sales held in February increased by 68% year-on-year, going up from 103 to 173, and the average number of registered internet bidders per sale rose from 184 to 209.

While the number of underbids online in February 2011 was 9450 in total, a year later it had rocketed to 19,153, a rise of 100.8%. Underbids online rose from 17.1% to 20.3%.

Many auctioneers have mentioned the increasing number of sales online from overseas buyers, and the-saleroom.com figures reveal that while in February 2011 there were bidders from 43 countries other than the UK represented, a year later this hit 54. Since it launched there have been 93 countries other than the UK involved, ranging from Chile to Mongolia.

February 2012 results from the-saleroom.com also show how well individual businesses are doing.

Duke's of Dorchester, in their 14th sale on the site overall, made 46.2% of the hammer total online, representing 44.6% of the lots, and 31.8% of lots were underbid online.

Other high achievers included Aston's Auctioneers, of Dudley with online bids raising 53.5% of the total hammer and accounting for 58.4% of total lots sold. There were online underbids on 59.1% of all lots.

Stroud Auctions saw online claiming 52.6% of the total hammer price and 39.8% of lots sold, with underbids online notching up 31.4% by lot.

Stroud also rated highly in the number of registered internet bidders attracted during February 2012, with a total of 683, but were pipped to the top spot by Lawrences of Bletchingley, who hit 770.

Special Auction Services of Newbury had a very strong 634 online bidders, but perhaps the most dramatic effect was seen at Bellmans of Wisborough Green who attracted 502 registered online bidders for what was only the second live auction they had held with the-saleroom.com.

ATG asked live online bidding platforms Artfact and LiveAuctioneers for an update on their clients' performance but had not received replies at the time of going to press.

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