The last thing you probably want to read about today is Brexit, but in almost every walk of life the UK’s decision to leave the EU has left some sort of impact, even if the particulars of that impact are still being figured out…
Guidance on the subject in relation to the humble hobby of collecting shirts hasn’t been abundantly clear, so we thought we’d ask a few people from the community about their first-hand experience since 1st January 2021.
How does Brexit affect shirt collecting?
1. The cold hard numbers
Let’s start by looking at some specific numbers. According to Royal Mail’s guidance on Brexit, you should now anticipate paying additional fees when receiving items from abroad (including the EU) if the value of the goods exceeds certain thresholds.
“VAT and duties will be applied depending on the type and value of the goods. For gifts over £39 and goods over £135, Royal Mail may collect the VAT and customs duties on behalf of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). from the recipient prior to delivery.”
Adrian (@FutbolShIrTALIA) talks about the immediate change he saw when the new year rolled in…
Adrian: The first thing I immediately noticed on January the 1st (yes I am that sad) was that the shirts I was watching on platforms such as eBay were more expensive with 20% VAT added. This obviously has a knock on effect to how many shirts I will be buying – keeping my net spend the same.
2. Communicate with sellers beforehand
It’s usually a good idea to try and communicate with sellers before making a significant purchase, and if anything the importance of reaching out to those you’re dealing with is even more important in this post-Brexit landscape.
According to some collectors, some sellers who were previously able to ship to the UK with certain methods are finding it more difficult now. Many of these kinks are likely to be ironed out in future, but for now the best thing to do is to communicate directly so you can discuss options and crucially, pricing.
Adrian: I’ve had a couple of instances where sellers have told me they are unable to sell to UK buyers at present and others that can only export / post using the national postal service as couriers won’t accept the items.
On a more positive note for UK buyers though, there are also sellers who are open to further reductions in response to the cautious market of buyers so far this year. Again, by communicating with sellers you’ll be giving yourself the best opportunity of a good deal.
Adrian: In the last week I have however been offered some quite large discounts from EU sellers on items and it seems they are also beginning to feel the pinch with a drop in sales.
3. Direct trading has become more attractive
One interesting change we’re seeing is a shift towards direct selling on social media. Selling from collector to collector has always occurred, but with more and more people buying shirts and the increasing prices on eBay, it seems there’s never been a better time to buy and swap with fellow collectors.
Damien: Brexit might mean that more people will trade on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and less on ebay, especially UK collectors who usually find good deals in Europe on ebay. Those collectors would perhaps want to avoid to pay 20% on top of the regular price. The shirt community will become stronger!
There are of course a number of other advantages to buying from fellow collectors, not least the peace of mind that you’re not having to navigate through a wave of fake shirts compared to sifting through platforms like eBay and Depop.
4. The dust is still settling
Ultimately there are still some unknowns, particular for businesses who buy or sell regularly to the EU.
Roger: To be honest, it’s all a little inconclusive yet. I won’t really know the full extent of buying and selling until the first VAT quarter period I’d say. Maybe even longer to see what balances and works.
As a general rule though, you should treat buying shirts from EU like you would buying from other parts of the world. Anticipate any additional fees as much as possible, and establish as much as you can beforehand with sellers to make sure you’re not hit with a nasty surprise.
Roger: Any purchase outside the UK is now considered as buying from the USA, Canada or Asia previously.
Adrian: I suspect we will have a much better idea of where things are in a few months.
Thanks to Roger, Adrian and Damien for their two cents on today’s subject. For more advice and tips for some of the big questions we all face as collectors, check out the rest of our Collectors Club series.