Covid-19 & Its Effect On The Antiques Trade


In this fourth instalment of my Source Vintage Blog I wanted to talk about Covid-19 and the effect it has had or may have on the antiques trade.

In the light of current world events, have you seen or do you foresee a change in people's antique buying and selling habits? Are people going to be shopping more online? Will antiques fairs, markets, car boot sales and shops suffer as a result, or is the antiques trade different to other retail? Will people still want to handle and examine a physical item before they commit to buying? The antiques trade is also one of the only trades left where deals are made based solely on trust, reputation and a handshake. Therefore, will buyers still want that personal face-to-face interaction with a seller before parting with their money?


 Photo courtesy of Richard Cawood - Antique Home & Vintage Fair - Instagram @antiquefairyork


It was obvious when Covid-19 struck that shopping habits would have to change and reports have confirmed a significant increase in online shopping during this time. The reality is that peoples shopping habits have been changing for a number of years now, as you can see from the empty shops on the high street. People are finding the same things online for a better price and without having to leave their homes. The high street has struggled to compete with this and with their hefty overheads on top, many business have fallen victim to the internet. I think the Covid-19 virus has expedited this process. We are witnessing the internet shopping boom right now, with online giants like Amazon, recording record profits and employing thousands of new staff to keep up with demand.



However, I think the antiques trade is different to other forms of retail. Anybody involved with antiques, whether you are a seller, a buyer or a collector, will tell you that the trade is an addiction. Once you're involved, you will be buying, selling and collecting for the rest of your life! In addition, we are witnessing another change in shopping habits, with people becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their actions. People are starting to favour old and used, over new, and this will continue to gather pace. I will stick my neck out and say that there is an antiques boom coming very soon, you mark my words! 


Photo courtesy of Richard Cawood - Antique Home & Vintage Fair - Instagram @antiquefairyork


I believe the internet will increase the volume of antique shopping. Certainly, I know there were a lot of people who perhaps didn't trust the internet or know how to shop on it before lockdown. They have been forced to teach themselves and have discovered that it is a safe and secure form of shopping. Not only that, but it's a very convenient form of shopping. It also gives you the opportunity to shop for antiques from all over the world. Whilst this gives you a lot more variety, it also means that competition for these items is much greater, with a much bigger audience.



Conversely, you can't beat handling and examining an item, or the thrill of a physical dig through a fair or a shop. The way I see it is an antiques fair is like going to see your favourite band play. You have an amazing time, you sing along and you are surrounded by likeminded people who are just as passionate as you are. You share knowledge and stories, make friends or contacts, and you end up spending a fortune! As a wise dealer once said, "your contacts book in the antiques trade is your most important possession." You make these contacts through networking and that is why shops and fairs will remain an important part of this trade.


Photo courtesy of Richard Cawood - Antique Home & Vintage Fair - Instagram @antiquefairyork


To conclude. I think that coronavirus and the subsequent government restrictions will have an initial, short-term effect, on physical antiques trading. However, we will get through this and the internet will play an important role in this. I think that physical and online shopping can work together harmoniously within the antiques trade. We have witnessed the importance of having an online shop and a presence over the past few months and I cannot emphasise the importance of this moving forward. Quite simply, you must evolve, as many businesses are, to keep up with consumer needs. But rest assured, the antiques community are here, ready and waiting, and will return in droves just as soon as we can, I promise! And prepare yourself for the green antique revolution, it's coming!



I have already started attending my local antique shops and I will expand my foraging to York Car Boot Sale, which is re-opening on Saturday 8th August, and the Antique Home and Vintage Fair, which is opening its doors again on Sunday 20th September from 9.30am - 4pm. Both are being held at York Racecourse.


Photo courtesy of Richard Cawood - Antique Home & Vintage Fair - Instagram @antiquefairyork


Anyway, I hope that you've enjoyed this week's Blog. As always, let me know your experiences and thoughts. I'm always interested to hear from you.

Stay safe and I hope to be seeing you all at an antiques event very soon!



Owner Source Vintage

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