LAPADA are to target young dealers in a membership drive after their latest survey shows hardly any existing members are aged under 35.
The results highlight the demographic crisis faced by the UK’s largest professional dealer association. For the first time the survey asked members for their age and sex. Of the 142 who replied – 23% of LAPADA’s 617 members – three quarters were men and only two or three were under the age of 35.
The results reinforce the grass-roots impression that fewer young people are joining the trade, and also show that more than half of the association’s membership (56%) are over the age of 55.
Other key concerns to come out of the survey include the continuing absence of American buyers – 69.5% saw this as the overwhelming problem – some antiques being ‘out of fashion’ and the continuing strength of sterling.
The mythical ‘young buyer’ so coveted by fair organisers was not a familiar customer to most LAPADA members, who said just 17% of business was done with clients under 40 with the under 30s making up just 3% of trade.
Recent legislation on money laundering and The Disability Discrimination Act has affected only a handful of dealers, while less than a quarter of those responding believe other financial issues such as the stock market, pension fund losses and high prices are a problem.
There is no great news on turnover. Those registering an increase in turnover during 2004 remain almost in line with the previous year (up from 23% to 24%), with those reporting a fall in turnover down from 55 to 50%.
These figures are remarkably similar to those reported in the BADA survey in March.
On a more positive note, the shop appears to be making a return. Members dealing from a shop or gallery have increased from 69% to 75%, with 40% reporting that they had not exhibited at any fair over the previous year. However, in common with the BADA survey, the number of dealers taking their merchandise overseas in pursuit of foreign, and particularly American, buyers, has risen from 12 to 17%.
A full table of findings appears in the Antiques Trade Gazette page 2.