eBay Enjoying Renaissance

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

Buyers and sellers are flocking to the site. And hot tub sales are booming.

More than 50,000 new businesses have signed up to the UK arm of online trading site eBay in April as independent retailers seek a way to survive through lockdown.

Hardware and toy stores to fashion boutiques and brands have turned to the site as a means to keep trading and even big fashion brands are signing up to the site as a way to clear spring stock that will never make it into stores. Up to 80 have already signed up and Rob Hattrell, the boss of eBay’s UK arm, says the company is poised to sign up more in the coming weeks.

“Businesses are trying to find a way to survive,” says Hattrell.

The leap towards eBay reflects an acceleration of the shift to online shopping across the market prompted by you know what. Sales slumped 93% at high street stores in April, according to the advisory firm BDO’s monthly snapshot of trading at dozens of medium-sized non-food chains. Online and catalogue sales more than doubled (109%).

Shopper numbers on eBay have doubled as families switch to buying online rather than giving up on spending altogether.

Before lockdown started, sales of medical products such as face masks and hand sanitiser soared. Since then, there have been different waves of demand moving from home office supplies, such as laptops and desks, to games and puzzles for children, through to fitness equipment, home-baking kit and, finally, in recent weeks, signs of a return to buying clothing.

Unusually, one of the biggest spikes in demand has been for hot tubs – with sales up 480%, perhaps prompted by a desire to create that seaside feeling at home during a sunny April and May.

Other fast sellers read like a map of lockdown life. Sales of dumbbells and resistance bands are up more than 220% while bread makers, and brewing kits are both up 200%. Activewear – which often doubles up as lounge wear – is up by 50%, one of the few fashion winners.