Trends, Tendencies, Demand Strength
4 JULY 2012
Downsizing Boomers are dumping their personal property en mass at auction. Much of their consigned property reflects the decorating crazes of the 1950s through the 1980s. Furniture collected during this period was often refinished and brown, literally, as most wood is and most period styles are. However, “brown” furniture is currently not in stylistic favor, particularly in the eastern mid-Atlantic northward and especially with the younger generations who apparently have no style at all. Much of this “brown” is flooding the marketplace.
The current market is jittery and very cautious due to several negative dynamics: e.g. national debt, runaway government spending, mandated health care and its impact on employers, the recent realignment within the Islamic World, rising oil futures, and the ever present threat of economic collapse of the Euro. This basket of market inhibitors will likely stall business momentum at a moment when the world’s economy is improving from a deep recession that had commenced in January of 2008. Until the parameters of these risks are defined, assessed, and measured, the wider market demand for art, certain categories of antiques and collectibles will likely remain stagnant. In general, demand will not return to pre-2008 levels for at least 30 years, in my opinion. The reasoning is elementary: demand is weak and diminishing as supply is plentiful and increasing in a threatened world economy with clueless or hopeless younger generations.
Uncertainty in the marketplace is manifested by dealers consuming their existing stock, sometimes at diminished margins or at a loss, rather than refreshing inventories at auctions. Thus their retail art and antiques shops are depleted and often look haggard, a combination which tends to perpetuate demise. Hence collectors have been and are buying at auction because product availability is better at auction than in retail shops. The overall effect on the market is lower prices. Due to the demographic trends and the market conditions mentioned above, realized auction values may diminish for the next three decades.
If you are young and clueless, now is the time to become self-informed and to buy, buy, buy!
If you are a Boomer, downsize now and sell ASAP before its worth less tomorrow – and for the gods’ sake, stop buying more crap!