An online portal where top antique dealers sell their treasures has seen astonishing growth this year – accelerated by the Covid lockdown.
2Covet saw a 283 per cent increase in business between March and June as buyers and sellers moved online, and the growth has continued.
With dealers unable to trade from their shops and fairs or visit auctions they needed a new trading opportunity.
Collectors, interior designers and regular customers were also forced online and flocked to 2Covet.
The site was set up last year by two top dealers who saw an opportunity to link buyers and sellers.
Another trend has seen older people who learned to buy from internet sites during the first lockdown trust in the method for other, higher-end purchases.
Dealers pay a monthly fee to feature their antiques or contemporary items on 2Covet and buyers use it as they would Amazon or other shopping sites.
Charles Wallrock, from Lymington, Hampshire, and Steve Sly from Bournemouth, Dorset, joined forces to create the platform.
Charles, who specialises in maritime and nautical antiques, said: “We felt there was room for a new marketplace for dealers.
“We wanted to connect them with buyers and the platform simply does that, without commission or other extra costs.
“Dealers have to be of a high standard and the majority are trade affiliated so visitors to the site know there is quality control.
“Many of those in our world and sector have been reluctant to use the internet – but that has all changed.
“Importantly, the dealers and clients are connected and that allows them to build relationships which is so important in the industry.
“We were confident in the business model of 2Covet and have happily been proved correct.”
Steve Sly, a leading world expert in Japanese art and former deputy chairman and co-owner of AFC Bournemouth, said: “We were experiencing rapid growth before the first lockdown, but that really accelerated things.
“The existing trend speeded up when people couldn’t buy and sell through shops and fairs.
“We had 283 per cent growth during the first lockdown and now believe the ball is well and truly rolling, and already we have seen another uptick during the latest lockdown.
“As well as antiques we are seeing more jewellery dealers coming on board and others with specialist and exquisite products.
“A further unexpected trend is to have international dealers contact us, keen to tap into the market we have created.
“Those who previously wouldn’t have trusted using the internet for these sorts of purchases are now rapidly becoming online shoppers and it is changing the industry.”
The UK arts and antiques market is worth about £10bn – second only to China in terms of sales.