Dr Clare McAndrew
Dr Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics, researched and wrote the ‘Resilience in the Dealer Sector: A Mid-Year Review 2021,’

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Dr Clare McAndrew’s report Resilience in the Dealer Sector: A Mid-Year Review 2021 analysed the global dealer sector in the first half of 2021 reflecting the continued challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, focusing on employment structures and sales. It is based on responses from over 700 dealers operating in art and antiques markets in 54 regions or countries.

It showed that business is improving in the gallery sector with 51% of dealers reporting an increase in sales in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 and overall sales increasing by 10%.

However, this data applies mainly to larger businesses. Dealers with turnover less than $250,000 saw sales dip marginally below H1-2020, and mid-sized dealers in the $500,000 to $1m turnover segment saw values decrease by 3% on average.

Meanwhile, online sales, which rose with the advent of last year’s quarantine measures, are still strong. The share of online sales for dealers at all levels remained more than double the level of 2019 and this channel accounted for 33% of all sales (or 37%, including art fair Online Viewing Rooms). The greatest share of online-only galleries was in the antiques and decorative art sector, where 16% of respondents operated without physical premises.

According to the report: “While the condition and quality of art and antique objects can be more difficult to ascertain online, dealers in this segment noted that improvements in viewing technology had facilitated easier online sales, and that collectors were also willing to buy online once they knew and trusted the dealer to vet and guarantee the works or objects they sold. However, some also noted that pressure on sales in this segment had necessitated this shift as a cost-cutting measure.”