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Reflecting continued trading difficulties, 55 per cent of respondents said turnover had fallen in 2003 (10 per cent more than in 2002) with only 23 per cent reporting an increase in turnover (down from 31 per cent last year). Half those polled expect business to stabilise in 2004, with 28 per cent anticipating further decreases.

In the earnings category, the only changes were small increases in the number of dealers falling into the lowest income category (18 per cent reported a turnover under £100,000) and one of the higher income categories (23 per cent posted sales of £500,000-£1m).

Highlighting the changing business environment is the substantial increase in the number of dealers now working from home or by appointment (up from 10 to 17 per cent) and the falling number of members employing staff. On average 100 members now employ a total of 232 full-time staff between them, compared with 370 in 2002 (a drop of 38 per cent) and 128 part-time staff members, down from 162, a 20 per cent fall.

The chill wind that has blown through the fairs scene saw far fewer dealers relying upon exhibitions as their sole source of income (down from 15 to just two per cent) and small falls in the number of regular fair exhibitors.

This, correspondingly, led to a small rise in the number of dealers trading from a shop or gallery (up four per cent).

The trade have progressively become more technologically aware. Up to 91 per cent this year was the number of dealers saying they had an email address; while only a quarter of respondents said they had bought stock online, half reported having sold stock over the Web. Most sales were for items priced under £5000 although more than one third reported sales above that figure.
Sadly the most significant statistic is the massive reported increase in crime. Following a welcome fall last year, there was a 100 per cent increase in those suffering a theft or burglary.


158 members, 25% of the membership, responded. Figures in brackets denote, where applicable, the equivalent percentages from the 2002 survey.

Estimated turnover during the last 12 months
18% under £100,000 (16%)
24% £100,000-250,000 (24%)
21% £250,000-500,000 (24%)
23% £500,000-£1m (19%)
14% over £1m (17%)

Turnover compared with last year
23% reported an increase (31%)
55% reported a decrease (45%)
22% reported no change (24%)

Expected turnover next year
23% expect an increase (19%)
28% expect a decrease (34%)
49% expect no change (47%)

Members deal from
69% a shop or gallery (65%)
12% an antiques centre (10%)
17% from home/by appointment (10%)
2% at fairs only (15%)

37% (35%) employ no staff
100 members employ between them 232 (370) full-time staff and 128 (162) part time

43% reported they had not exhibited at a fair in the last 12 months (41%)
27% reported exhibiting at fewer than 5 fairs per year (25%)
30% reported exhibiting at 5 or more per year (34%)
12% reported that they exhibited at overseas fairs (12%) – 15 in the USA, 3 in Europe, 1 elsewhere

68.5% of sales were made in shop or gallery
24% at fairs
3.5% at auction
4% over the Internet

Overseas turnover
10% report no turnover overseas (7%)
54% report turnover of up to 25% with overseas clients (56%)
13% report turnover of 25-50% with overseas clients (15%)
10% report turnover of 50-75% with overseas clients (12%)
13% report turnover of over 75% with overseas clients (10%)

Most important overseas market
81.6% USA (78%)
12% EU (14%)
4% Japan/Far East (4%)
1% Switzerland (1%)
1.4% Middle East (1%)
0% Australia/New Zealand (2%)

The Internet
60% have their own website (61%), 40% do not have a website (39%)
91% have an email address (88%), 9% do not (12%)
49% have sold stock over the Internet (45%): 71% for prices less than £5,000 (62%), 26% at prices ranging from £5,000-10,000 (21%), 12% for over £10,000 (17%)
23% have bought stock over the Internet (24%), 77% have not (76%)

28% have suffered theft or burglary over the last 12 months (14%)
94% of the thefts/burglaries was from their premises (90%)
3% from a fair (5%)
3% from a vehicle (5%)
3% have suffered from credit card fraud in the last 12 months
3% have suffered from Internet fraud in the last 12 months

77.5% said that the most important reason for belonging to the Association is public recognition and confidence in the logo.

EU and other regulations
Note was taken of a number of measures, but few dealers were affected