4am shopping binges: eBay looks at changing online retail habits


To coincide with its 21st anniversary, eBay has launched its first UK Retail Report – opening up its search and sales data to show the way the UK shops today.


Highlights of the UK Retail Report:

The way we shop is always changing.

· We now shop around the clock: with minute by minute sales data, eBay pinpoints what drives 24/7 shopping behaviour, whether it’s sleepless parents driving Peppa Pig DVD searches at midnight, or gamers completing and looking for new games at 4am.

· TV inspires us to shop on the sofa: Smartphones touch 57% of eBay purchases and many customers mobile-shop when inspired. Game of Thrones and Peaky Blinders joined The Great British Bake Off as some of the UK’s most influential shows. There were over 1.2million searches for ‘Thrones alone this year, extending into categories like clothing, showing the power of cult TV.
· We still plan far ahead: eBay search data determines when customers start to think about a big purchase – and proves we’re not just buying for now. Halloween is a huge opportunity for retailers – searches start over two months before the spooky celebration. And we know that a wedding takes over a year to plan, with 1.7million searches for wedding dresses in January and February and Mother-of-the-Bride outfits a big rising trend.

British shoppers are influenced by new cultural trends.

· We’re a nation of modern collectors: Marvel comics, Lego special editions and limited edition trainers are now top property in the modern day stock market, and have commanded the highest prices over the past 12 months. Retro tech like Pokémon, Game Boy and Nintendo 64s have also seen five-fold increases , as Pokémon Go sees us loving our old games again.

· We’re a nation of self-starters and ever more DIY-ambitious: the rise of YouTube ‘how to’ videos have boosted more complex home DIY projects, with underfloor heating seeing a 253% sales increase. eBay now sells a power tool every 9 seconds too. This trend also extends to motors, where classic car renovation is a growing trend.

· But we still want great value and increasingly go for refurbished tech: Brits love a bargain – but they also want the latest gadgets. Refurbished items are the new way of making a big saving – with customers are saving up to 50 per cent on high-street prices for items such as iPhones and Dysons. Customers also regularly price up their old tech to sell ahead of a new product launch – like the iPhone 7.

Murray Lambell, Director of UK Trading at eBay, said: ‘Millions of Brits search, buy and sell on eBay.co.uk each month. Adding an extra layer of insight – be it the time of day they shopped or even the cultural phenomena they reacted to – means we’re able to pinpoint how trends are born and tastes are shaped. By analysing eBay data in this way we’ve been able to create a true snapshot of UK shopper behaviour.’

More facts from the UK retail report

o This year we remembered the greats. It was a year in which we said goodbye to many icons, including David Bowie in January. There were over 20,000 searches for the music icon on the day after his passing. Prince also inspired thousands of searches as fans looked for items to remember their hero.

o Brits are big TV and cinema fans and UK cinema is hugely influential. The first Harry Potter film hit the silver screen in 2001 but the power of the franchise is still strong today – worth £63 million in fandom items on eBay to date. On World Book Day, an ever-growing retail moment, Harry topped the list of fictional character dress ups on eBay.co.uk.[1]

o UK celebs have big buying power. Adele released ‘19’ back in 2008, and today she’s still our Number 1. Headline performances at Glastonbury and a world tour drove over 400,000 searches for the star on eBay.co.uk[2] - demonstrating the influence of home-grown talent.

o Brits love to have the latest tech. Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in 2007 and it remains one of the most wanted pieces of tech on eBay. And today, Brits are also fond of selling their old device to keep up with the latest release. When the iPhone 7 launched this month, Brits used eBay to search the sale price they’d get for their old model as they wait to trade up. Today, eBay has more than 410,000 listings available for ‘smartphone’ onsite.[3]

o We’re not always stuck inside on our phones. April 2016 saw an unusual sunny spell and Brits headed outside, with searches for BBQs up to over 200,000 during this time. eBay’s Retail Report data shows that the Easter bank holiday is always the watershed moment for Brits buying outdoor goods – no matter what the weather is like.

o Beauty sales are moving online. Fans of makeup are moving online, with vlogger videos making it easy to apply at home. After the contour trend took off on YouTube, we sold a highlighting kit every three minutes in the UK.

o We’re a patriotic nation. For the Queen’s birthday in June 2016 we joined in Her Majesty’s Street party with purchases of Union Jack flags[4].

o We’re a nation of small businesses. In 2015, eBay revealed that 93% of its sellers were exporting to customers overseas, and trade continues to decentralise across the UK with small business hotspots opening outside town centres.[5] UK sellers sell a necklace every 3 seconds on eBay.co.uk and a power tool every 9 seconds.


More findings are listed below:

On eBay.co.uk:

• A make-up product is purchased every 10 seconds
• A necklace is purchased every 3 seconds
• A wedding item is purchased every 6 seconds
• A power tool is purchased every 9 seconds
• A motorcycle part is purchased every 8 seconds
• A Lego product is purchased every 19 seconds

On eBay in the UK on mobile:

• A cookware item is purchased every 13 seconds
• A pair of men’s shoes is purchased every 6 seconds
• A tablet is purchased every 1 minute
• A bedding item is purchased every 13 seconds
• A car part is purchased every 3 seconds
• A car is purchased every 2 minutes

Read the full report here

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