As the final poll numbers came in for Britain's referendum on whether or not to leave the European Economic Union, the British pound began to drop precipitously against a number of world currencies - most notably the U.S. dollar - a standard safe-haven for deposits in times of uncertainty. The strong overnight rise in the value of the U.S. dollar against the British pound had a number of repercussions worldwide, but none more immediate than the effect it had on online antique and collectible auction sites in England (and in Europe to a somewhat lesser extent).
The discounted conversion rate for items purchased through UK based online auction houses who conducted sales in pound sterling was immediate, with buyers overseas, particularly in America, suddenly finding themselves with an instant 10% off at checkout. But they weren't the only companies having to deal with market forces that were out of their hands, as many of the UK's top online antiques retailers were also hit with diminishing returns on non-auction items as well. As one high-end antiques dealer in London's tony Knightsbridge area put it, "Buyers in the U.S. are not only getting 10% off from the world markets, but we're throwing in another 20% discount of our own, just because of all the uncertainty of where this is heading."
Those currently shopping in the UK for container loads of antiques and collectibles to bring back to the U.S. could be the biggest winners of all. David Smith, an importer of English and European antiques from Wisconsin for over 30 years, said he's never seen a buying opportunity like this, "These types of big devaluations in currency rarely come along in first world nations, so when they do, you have to be ready." Smith says he's already contacted his buyers in England, and plans to be there before weeks end.
The near-term economic outlook for the UK remains uncertain, which is likely to keep the British currency depressed for some time to come. So, if you've been hankering for a trip across the pond to pick up your favorite Chippendale chair or Sheraton sideboard... then now may be the perfect time to set sail with "greenback" in hand!