Art buyers spend more on sunny winter days

Press Release
Anyone who wants to auction a work of art is better off waiting for a beautiful, sunny winter day. Art buyers are prepared to pay 2 to 3 percent more on winter days when the weather is nice.

These are the findings of Rachel Pownall of Tilburg University and her colleagues Dakshina De Silva of Texas Tech University and Leonard Wolk of Maastricht University. Pownall and her colleagues analysed sales figures from the London auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's from 1990 to 2007. They compared these figures to data from the British Atmospheric Data Centre.

The researchers selected auction houses in London, because these are the leading art auction houses, and because London has a good mix of sunny and not-so-pleasant days. The chance of rain in London is 50 percent, which makes it feasible to study the sunshine-effect.

"There is increasing interest in the role of emotions when it comes to making economic decisions. Experimental studies in the past have often shown that emotions do indeed play a role. Our study is the first to track the effect of mood on economic behaviour over an extended period of time in normal market conditions," according to Pownall in an introduction to her study. 

"Study results show, among other things, that site-specific factors affect people's willingness to spend money."

The researchers determined that the effect of a beautiful day is particularly measurable in the winter season. Fewer works of art are put up for auction in the spring and fall anyway. "However, we have found that on beautiful days in spring, summer, and fall, people bid measurably less for works of art up for auction. The nice-weather effect is therefore generally confined to the winter. This could be because buyers are somewhat 'spoiled' by the sun in the other seasons, so a beautiful day is less likely to affect their mood."

Pownall would like to see further research conducted into the effects of the hibernal sun on sales prices. She recommends repeating her study in a location with different climatic conditions to see if the "sun effect" can be measured there as well. She also recommends studying whether a sunny day influences sales of articles other than art. "That might shed more light on the question of the exact origin of the effect we measured," according to Pownall.

Source: Tilburg University



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