The COVID-19 pandemic has caused treasure hunting to change dramatically. From flea market and swap meet closures to cancelled antique and collectible auctions, buyers had to transfer to online markets and auctions to get their fix. Despite this change, LiveAuctioneers’ 2020 Annual Report reveals a year-over-year pattern of growth for the industry.
Growth is Contributed to Rising Consumer Confidence
The report shows that 1.2 million items were sold on the LiveAuctioneers site in 2020 and, on average, 120,000 new-bidders signed up each month. LiveAuctioneers was not the only ecommerce auction site to see growth. According to IBISWorld, the ecommerce and online auctions industry is growing rapidly as more time-strapped and cost-conscious consumers are enticed by the convenience of finding, comparing, and purchasing products online easily and quickly.
Online-only auction sales rose 255 percent in 2020. Additionally, the average price for digital sales soared 207 percent in this period to $23,612 from $8,157 in 2019, as auction houses increasingly began to test collector appetite for buying higher-priced fine art and collectibles online. The rising prices collectors are willing to pay for antiques sold online reflect more confidence among buyers and from auctions in curating higher-value sales.
“For many reasons, 2020 was a pivotal year. Despite the unprecedented challenges, we saw astounding growth as auctions moved almost exclusively online. We welcomed millions of new buyers seeking a more sustainable way to shop, and at a time when supporting small businesses was more important than ever, we were able to help auction houses achieve record-setting sales and 102 percent year-over-year growth in first-time buyers,” Suzie Ryu, LiveAuctioneers Senior Director of Marketing, said in a press release sent to American Merchandiser.
Antiques Attracted Top Designers
The newly released 2020 Annual Report reveals the types of items consumers are currently buying, which brands they love, and which art and collectibles categories achieved the highest prices over the last 12 months on LiveAuctioneers.com. In 2020, more than ever before, acquiring and reusing high-quality vintage objects became a fashionable, and responsible, thing to do. In media interviews, renowned designers, tastemakers, and style influencers spoke of their fondness for discovering classic pieces that were ready for their next life. These figures show how the environment benefited in 2020 from the recycling of antiques and vintage goods on LiveAuctioneers:
- 68 tons of paper saved through online bidding
- 455,000 tons of CO2 equivalent in recirculated gold sold on LiveAuctioneers
- 11,000 tons of CO2 emissions reduced by remote bidding vs. driving to art auctions
- 8x longer lifespan of furniture and home decor items sourced online
Art-Market Stalwarts & Mid-Century Modern Style Dominated 2020 Purchases
Of the 1.2 million items acquired through LiveAuctioneers in 2020, the top categories of interest included contemporary art, automobilia, musical instruments, comic books, scientific objects, and wine and spirits. The favorite artists of 2020 were Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Marc Chagall, Keith Haring, and Banksy.
As bidders searched and bought different items, the most explored categories were Art Deco, mid-century and Victorian periods, as well as Chippendale and Louis XV styles. Furniture buyers overwhelmingly favored the mid-century modern look, especially as interpreted by designers such as George Nakashima, Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, George Nelson, and Milo Baughman. Luxury goods also had a good run on the marketplace, led by Rolex, Cartier, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès.
Besides LiveAuctioneers and eBay, there are many different online auctions where both buyers and sellers can interact without leaving the safety of their homes. While in-person auctions are still popular, other online auction websites include Atomic Mall, Auctionmaxx, AuctionZip, and Bonanza, among others.