That includes a lot of factors, especially big box stores like Wal-Mar and Target, and a lot of the items people aren’t buying are things that they shouldn’t be buying there anyway – art, furniture, etc…
A January lull is no big surprise to the antiques business; after the holidays and the lull in mid-level and flea market shows – a lot of high-end happens in the Winter, and you can’t really count the health of The Winter Antiques Show or The American Antiques Show as truly reflective of the real health of the antiques economy – there is a lot of space. General line buyers are going online to auctions, or checking out shops or small shows nearby.
There are schools of thought that will consider an economic slowdown healthy for antiques, and I don’t disagree with them. I do also know that when the economy gets bad – remember 2001? – the antiques business is one of the first to feel the lack of discretionary income, and one of the last to benefit when people come out of the stupor.
The above report, along a reported and well-documented contraction of the jobs market last month, don’t add up to prosperity. No one wants to say recession, but the laws of economics are fairly immutable.