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The internet has clearly become a more important trading platform for the association’s members, with 67 per cent saying they had sold stock online compared to 58 per cent for the previous year. Meanwhile, 45 per cent had bought on line in 2008, compared with 39 per cent in 2007.

While more dealers are standing at fairs and fewer are conducting business from shops or galleries, the survey shows that trade taking place at fairs is falling significantly – only 18 per cent of sales compared to 39 per cent in 2007 – while shops and galleries have seen a big rise in activity: 67 per cent compared to 54 per cent the previous year.

Perhaps most significant is dealer expectations for 2009.

Only 15 per cent expect to do better than the previous year, compared with 27 per cent in 2007; 57 per cent expect to do worse, compared with 24 per cent in 2007, and only 28 per cent expect to have a similar turnover. In 2007, that figure was 48 per cent.

LAPADA also asked about the effects of the Artists’ Resale Right (ARR) in the wake of the Government decision not to extend the levy to the work of artists who had been dead for less than 70 years until 2012.

Here, the most noticeable figure was the number of transactions affected by ARR. Without the estates of dead artists qualifying, only four per cent of deals were subject to ARR, but once introduced, it will affect 40 per cent – a tenfold increase.

• The LAPADA membership stands at around 570, with 131 responding to the survey. The previous year, membership stood at around 585, with 175 responding.

By Ivan Macquisten