Where is the antique trade heading with the current world financial and cost of living crisis?

thumbnail what will happen to the antiques market


we are going to talk about the sky-rocketing cost of living and the impact it may have on the antique and collectible industry. I am going to talk about just some of the costs that will have an effect on our business that we can not avoid. And we are going to look at the extraordinary level of costs to the general public, ( why does it matter about the costs to the public ? ) the answer is because they are our customers. 

If people have to choose between eat or heat, do you think a bit of glass or porcelain will be high on their priority list?

If you take into consideration the events of the last few years alone, the pandemic, the extraordinary lockdown, and people being told they could not go out and earn a living to feed their families. And the tragic cost of life and pain and suffering to so many all over the world. 

As if what we have all been through wasn’t enough, we are still on the tail end of the pandemic and there is an unthinkable war between Ukraine and Russia. You would think that in 2022 we would be past such things as a war over control and ego, but no yet again there are countless lives lost and families devastated. And while I am not going to get into a political argument over why the invasion is so wrong we have to mention it here as it has fueled the current economic crisis.

This year we have seen some unreal cost of living increases, firstly there are still so many things that are just not available due to the pandemic, and the price of what is has just reached mars.  we have seen a tub of butter reach £10 and offered in the supermarkets with security tags, Fuel has broken the £2 a liter barrier, and gas and electricity have gone so high energy companies have gone from quarterly profits in the millions all the way into the billions. 

These are just the big ones that affect everyone, but I would say it is almost a safe bet that if you were to do a survey ninety percent of anything you look at will have a massive price increase from the same time last year, in fact, many things have doubled or trebled in price. 

What this means in real terms is that more and more people are going to have to choose! eat or heat, is the common term used but it refers to so much more than just heating your home or putting food in your mouth. People are going to have to choose which bill to pay and who to leave chasing a debt.  

This then brings us back to the main question, how much of a priority do you think a piece of glass or jewelry will be to the average person?

Below Is The Link To A Live Youtube Chat On The Subject.

Who are our customers in the antique and collectible trade?

I have been in the antique industry for decades and despite what you think the general public is more of a customer than people realize, most people think it is a small niche of collectors who buy everything, but this is not the case. 

Depending on what you sell, for example, jewelry will be bought by collectors and or as gifts for a loved one, a piece of artwork to hang on a wall can be bought by an interior designer or your average job blogs who fancies it for a splash of colour in a room. While there are areas that are mainly supplying serious collectors you will find that they are dedicated enough to keep buying if they can. 

The people who are going to be most hit by all the cost of living rises are the people who were likely to stumble upon your site and buy a vase or a figurine just because they took a fancy to it.

Unavoidable costs. 

Fuel has always been a large expense for any business, within the antique trade, we have to travel to flea markets, antique fairs or car boot sales, or even auction houses to source stock,  In the space of two years fuel has doubled in cost, 

Now, this is an unavoidable cost, will need to travel to source stock, you will need to travel to deliver your parcels, etc, 

what you can do is avoid any unnecessary travel. Or maybe little things such as, If possible try to combine trips, so if you are going buying stock and have parcels to do, take the parcels with you and do them on the way in or out.  Maybe restrict your shipping to three days a week if you have a long journey to send your parcels or arrange for home collection. 

Electricity is going to be a big problem throughout the country but when you’re working online it is an unavoidable expense. You will need to run your computer equipment, light photography box, camera, and phones. There really isn’t much you can do to save here, other than maybe make sure to turn your lightbox off in between listing your items. 

I have always switched my light box on and it has stayed on all day as I have worked, but now once my photograph is done, I turn off the light while I do my listings.

Cost of Supplies.

As every company struggles with the same increase in costs, the only response realistically is for them to increase the cost of the items, so packing materials where I was once paying £15 for bubble wrap and £0.60 for a roll of parcel tape, it has now gone up to £22 for the bubble wrap and £1.20 per roll of parcel tape, and you will find this throughout all the supplies you need from printer ink, to cardboard boxes. 

There really is nothing you can do about these other than, make sure to only use what you need and avoid waste.

Cost Of Stock.

There really are two ways of looking at the current climate situation with regards to stock. On the one hand, people will be out in great numbers selling all their unwanted items to raise money for bills, so theoretically there should be an abundance of stock to choose from. 

However, on the other hand, people will need the money so will most probably be trying to get the most amount of money for their items as they can. And where they would once not care and just sell items for a few pounds to clear, now they may start researching in order to see what things are worth.

What Can We All Do To Make Sure We Get Through This Recession?

Any business to be successful requires, a working, carefully thought out business plan. This has always been the case but it has never been more important than now. 

Make sure to know all your expenses. You will find a missed hidden cost can cause a small business a real problem.

Carefully monitor your turnover, expenses, and cost of the stock. The only real expense you have any control over is the cost of the stock. Even though the seller sets the price of an item. As a buyer, you have a little power ( as the seller wants your money ) so firstly haggle to a price you can afford. 

Remember your potential market is likely to be smaller than normal and items may take longer to sell and not fetch the price they would have a year ago. Make sure to buy your item with enough profit margin or don’t buy it at all. 

You need to clearly work out your costs, and a good plan to work with as an example.

30% of turnover would go back on to stock.

30% of turnover would be allocated for costs.

30% of turnover would be wages.

10% of turnover would be for savings in case an unexpected bill came in for services or an unexpected piece of stock.

Assuming that the availability of stock is going to increase with more people selling items for extra cash, one thing you can do is be pickier, it doesn’t matter what your area of the market is, don’t take risks, and maybe check the current prices before you commit to buy the item, or just buy the dead certs where a profit is as close as you can get to guaranteed.  

Be willing to take smaller profits and let things sell. If you get an offer of sale on one of your items, it may be a little low but ask yourself this, does it give you a working profit? if so you have to consider if it is worth taking a smaller profit and having turnover in the business to keep the cogs turning. 


In conclusion, I have come to realize that the next few years are going to be very difficult for everyone, but for no one more than the small self-employed business person who is going to have to work longer and harder for most probably less money. But if you are very careful about spending and watching all costs and turnover then we can all get through this recession. 

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