According to new evidence from respected international auctions search engine Barneby’s, which monitors 2,000 auction houses on its website, with over one million items up daily, the new generation of homemakers wishing to be eco-friendly by purchasing pre-owned objects and furniture is on the rise. They are apparently drawn to the idea of uniqueness, as well as the renewability of objects being reused again and again, which goes hand-in-hand with the vintage trend that is still very fashionable.
All the signs are there of a new interest in antique furniture, with sales of furniture, design and mirrors up 32 percent in the last 12 months, as well as searches for ‘antique dining table’ up 21 percent in the UK, ‘tiffany lamp’ up 63% globally, and ‘Chippendale’ up nine percent in the UK and US.
The presence of young women among an area of shoppers that has been dominated by older men for centuries is down to the huge growth of younger people using auctions as a way to shop, with bidding on online auctions, marking a huge shift in the target market.
‘Today we can say that everyone who works in the auction world is working in the world's most sustainable industry,’ says Pontus Silfverstolpe, co-founder of Barneby’s. ‘Changes in consumer behaviour, led by millennials is driving this new interest in using renewable, pre-owned items. They know that antiques are better for the carbon footprint. We clearly see an increased interest from the younger generation of buyers who want unique, personal, and quality items that last over time. It is just not sustainable for our world to continue to consume as we do today, and have done over the last few decades. So, today, many of the younger generation actively choose to furnish their homes with pre-owned furniture – which, surprisingly, is often cheaper than even IKEA furniture.’
Other trends that have been noticed by Barneby’s include: the market no longer being the exclusive domain of the very rich, and the fact that more consumers buying at auction because of its value for money, the presence of unique items, the concept of green buying, and the excitement of bidding. But online buyers are now more common than those that buy at traditional auctions.
They also remarked on the growing trend of 18–35 year olds becoming frequent buyers as well as sellers, whereas in the past they were only buyers for a long time. This makes them much more valuable clients over their lifetime.
As young buyers continue to buy locally and online and revolutionise the world of antique auctions, it is clear that the future of furnishing lies in the past.