Live auctions get the go ahead despite lockdown

Friday 6th November 2020 - Belle Gait


Live auctions get the go ahead despite lockdown

We offer some clarification regarding recent government decisions on auction houses.

As we know, the English government has made the decision to yet again close many businesses, including auction houses, for at least the month of November. All is not lost for bargain hunters, antique dealers, or those organised early Christmas shoppers, though!

Many were left reeling following the doom and gloom of the announcements made by Boris Johnson on 31st October. With so many businesses forced to close their doors and indeed seeing auction houses specifically listed as a business that had to close. However, following an enquiry from the Antiques Trade Gazette and a subsequent response from the Department for Digital Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), it would seem things are not as dire as they initially appeared.

Whilst government officials have confirmed that antique shops, auction houses, antique centres, and art galleries alike will all have to close their doors to the public and will not be able to participate in fairs or markets, whether held indoors or outdoors. The response from DCMS to ATG gave a reprieve for auctioneers and buyers alike. In their response they confirmed as follows:

"    1. Auction houses may trade online and can operate via click and collect or delivery. The only exception is for livestock and agricultural equipment auctions, which can be open to the public.

  1. Where staff need to be present to package auctioned goods, it is clear that this cannot be done from home, and they will be permitted to attend work premises to fulfill those duties. "

But what does this mean for you?

Indeed, it means great things! It means that for all intents and purposes, auction houses can remain open - you can still bid online, and auction houses are allowed to run their sales online with the saleroom closed to the public. This is excellent news for auction houses and their patrons as it means they can continue to use our platform to run their auctions, taking online, telephone, and commission bids.  It was previously a little ambiguous, with auctioneers unsure of their right to have staff in the workplace. This recent clarification by the DCMS has cleared up any confusion, and auction house staff can indeed attend their premises to perform tasks which clearly cannot be performed from their home. 

Nothing changes for bidders who are used to using our system, but for anyone new to live bidding, this is how it works:

  • Create your account
  • choose fee option (flat fee of £3* or 3%* of the hammer price) read more about that here (*these amounts can vary)
  •  Register to bid in the sale of your choice 

Then sit back with a cuppa and watch the action LIVE bidding from the comfort of your home! Of course, payments are easily made directly to the auction house, who also often offer a delivery service, but if not, the government's allowance for "click and collect" means that buyers can easily make an appointment to collect the items you have won.

All in all, despite these announcements and the pressure they undoubtedly place on many businesses, buyers and sellers alike can still take part in online sales even though the saleroom is closed.