After Brexit, British Antiques Are On Sale

In the aftermath of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, financial markets took a hit, Prime Minister David Cameron stepped down – causing the sovereign state to select its first female leader since Margaret Thatcher – and uncertainty rocked the region. One industry though might see a boost amidst the Brexit chaos: the art and antiques market.

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The U.K. is the largest antiques market in the world and according to Toma Clark Haines, the CEO of The Antiques Diva and Co

After the 2008 recession, the antiques market took a hit and has remained depressed ever since. But Haines believes that between millennials powering the vintage trend (that is the desire to have more individuality and more one off/unique items) and the weakening of the pound, the antiques market can make a resurgence.

The two biggest issues facing the antiques market now, according to Haines, are tariffs and free movement of goods.

For British antique dealers, departing from the EU could open them up to higher tariffs and increased paperwork on purchasing antiques from outside the U.K. and then bringing them into their shops. Especially given their luxury status, Haines predicts that tariffs will increase on art and antiques.

The second issue, especially for U.S. antique shoppers, is international shipping. When antique dealers are stocking their stores, they do tours of various countries like France and Belgium before returning to England to shop and ultimately ship the items out of the U.K. An average antique owner might spend approximately $100,000 across three countries, according to Haines, and sell the items in the U.S. for three to five times the cost. But international shipping is one of an antique dealer’s biggest expenses and one of the new questions posed to dealers is if they’ll still be able to ship all of their goods out of the U.K. without additional taxes put on items from non-U.K. countries.

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Haines notes that none of these restrictions regarding movement or additional tariffs have been imposed yet and that now is the time to act before any new regulations are put into place. Haines predicts that decisions on tariffs won’t come down until 2019 and that buyers should take advantage in the meantime.