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With almost a quarter of the membership taking part, 29% of respondents expected turnover to be higher in 2010, compared with only 15% – from an almost identical cross section – who were similarly optimistic last year.

At the other end of the scale, 23% of those polled thought turnover would fall compared with 57% in 2009.

Although business was worse for almost half the polled membership last year, it was still better for 22%.

Those operating out of a shop or gallery has remained fairly static at 58% (60% in the previous year), while 60% (67%) exhibit at fairs, 3% (8%) deal at fairs only and 30% (34%) hold in-house exhibitions.

Interestingly, less business is now being done in shops and galleries, 56% (67%), and more at fairs, 27.5% (18%).

Internet sales have also risen to 11.5% from 8% last year, although the share of dealers who have sold stock on the internet at all has only climbed 1% to 68% of the polled membership.

Meanwhile, sales through auction have remained all but level at 3% (4%), as have those through catalogues 2% (3%).

The United States remains the most important overseas market for 64% of respondents, but that is down 5% from last year, while the EU has seen a rise in importance for 27% (18%).

Just over a third of respondents were sole traders or in partnership.