Global and U.S. Antique Popularity Trends

by John Werry on November 17, 2008

As a website owner, I use a lot of tools to assess traffic patterns on my sites, and while doing so recently, I decided that I could use one of them to roughly judge global and U.S. trends for the antiques industry. I wanted to know how the public’s interest in antiques currently stood against historic trends.

Google “owns” web searching globally with an 81% market share that may someday soon become 90% (Yahoo is a distant second at 10% and MSN at 3%).  I reasoned that if any data out there can best capture the public’s interest in a particular topic, it is web search traffic.

My not-so-scientific methodology is not meant to be a precise view of the industry, but it should be an interesting window into the general trends over time.  There are some obvious errors with my methodology such as not having normalized for search traffic increasing overall since 2004 as more people get online.  However, for all I know, Google may have already done that for me within their data.

The charts below shows a relative scale of Google web search activity on a scale of 1-100 from 2004-present.  A datapoint of 100 anywhere in the chart denotes the peak of search interest over the past 5 years.

Let’s analyze each one individually (images can be clicked to expand size).

Interest In “Antiques” Since 2004

The first chart shows the precipitous decline of Worldwide search interest in “antiques” since 2004 with today being a 40 on a scale of 100 since 2004, the peak.

antiques trends Global and U.S. Antique Popularity Trends

The story is not much better if we isolate just the U.S. search traffic.  A similar trend is seen as the global trends with today being about a 45 on a scale of 100.  Note to the dealers out there – Maine, Vermont and Connecticut are the hot regions – so target the Northeast in general.

us antiques trends Global and U.S. Antique Popularity Trends

Interest In “Victorian Furniture” Since 2004

Our beloved niche of Victorian antique furniture has slipped to below 40 on  the timeline in the U.S. at present.  If you want the hotbed of Victorian, you need to be in Alabama, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.  Hopefully I’m not personally responsible for Pennsylvania hitting #3.

victorian furniture trends1 Global and U.S. Antique Popularity Trends

Interest In Buying Antiques Since 2004

I tried to capture the trend of web searchers actively looking to buy antique furniture with a look at “buy antiques” keyword traffic.  That particular search has stayed relatively constant since 2004.

buy antiques trend Global and U.S. Antique Popularity Trends

Ebay vs. Craigslist Since 2004

Here is a particularly fun statistic – Craigslist has overtaken the minds of U.S. web searchers looking to buy or sell antiques online.  This shift actually took place in the fourth quarter of last year.  Makes you wonder why Ebay continues to make moves to disappoint it’s sellers and buyers every time a new change is rolled out – which tend to be moves to increase their profitability and not changes to benefit their users.  Don’t they realize that maximizing revenue from a decreasing slice of pie is not progress.

ebay craigslist trends Global and U.S. Antique Popularity Trends

Anyway, I hope this data was as intriguing for you as it was for me.  If you know of someone else that would be interested in this information, use the “Email this post” link below.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

james conrad November 17, 2008 at 8:39 am

Neat, although i dont know what these numbers actually reveal. Is there a decline in people searching for antiques for sale or have people put their fav auctions/dealers on their fav list and do their searching from there?

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RareVictorian November 17, 2008 at 8:46 am

If that is the case, it may at least show net “new” (or forgetful) searchers and I would bet that the direct traffic that you speak of wouldn’t exactly be going in the opposite (increasing or flat) direction. I would bet that the two would mirror one another fairly well.

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RareVictorian November 17, 2008 at 10:20 am

I tried a more narrow search term – Eastlake – and got opposite results – increases. See here.

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John Hutchinson November 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm

John I find your data interesting. I would like to make a few points. The data you have accumulated is from one specific source, so I am not sure if it reflects all movement of ‘antiques.’ Remember, there is a vast cash market for the movement of art and antiquities. I would like to know how many auctions are fully up and on line? Even further, with the economy as stands today, I believe you will see the investment on the high end of things go up, due to the perception of art and antiquities are a commodity. Gold, silver and paintings are all the same. However, gold topped out in March!
I can tell you from my perspective of a restorer and also buyer/seller the middle market is dead! But I participated in the Delaware show, (as an on site restorer) and there was serious movement on some very serious pieces. The best advise I have, is buy what you like and want to live with, and always buy the piece that is a little bit more, in regards to money and ‘market value.’ The ‘A-‘ piece will appreciate with time and have greater return the ‘B+’ piece.
But alas the overarching fact is young people are not collecting like their parents. Ikea has taken over the world! Can I get fries with that?
John, RVR

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Paul Tucker November 17, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this. I checked “fretwork” and found that it is also dropping but Pennsylvania was the number one state. Probably because of me.

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james conrad November 18, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Interesting result on Eastlake stats. Eastlake was a starting point for my furniture collecting and i would bet for many others as well.

The search term may have something to do with your result as “antiques” covers an awful lot of ground, and even the narrower term “victorian furniture” may still be to broad.

I wonder if you entered specific styles like eastlake, ren. revival, etc., what the results would be then.

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S. Myers November 21, 2008 at 10:00 pm

If Craigs listis so popular why I have I never seen anything from there on your site? S. M.

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RareVictorian November 22, 2008 at 6:52 am

Great Question about why I don’t feature things from Craigslist on this site:

1. You can’t search U.S.-wide as far as I know. I’d have to search in Dallas, Philadelphia, New York, LA, Mobile, ….. one at a time. That just isn’t realistic. On Ebay, one search hits the whole U.S. Craigslist is good for individuals searching their local metro area for local pickup.

2. I have searches in place for my local Philadelphia area and check them often. Fact is, I haven’t found much worth following up on at on Craigslist. To me it is the equivalent of the virtual garage sale. Think about how often you’ve seen a Belter sofa in a driveway in front of a yard sale house sitting next to the kid’s bicycle. That’s how Craigslist tends to be to me. On Ebay, it is one notch up (not a far notch) on what you can truly find. I CAN find a Belter on Ebay – and the search is nationwide.

Craisglist has it’s place. It’s easy to sell and buy there and good bargains can be found there. It will be rare, however to find “Rare Victorian”.

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