Is The Bottom Falling Out On eBay?
By James Grahame
I recently decided to put together a computer for my home entertainment system. I was able to scrounge most of the components from the basement, but I turned to eBay for a couple of things. Within a matter of days, I picked up a $2.49 Wireless-G internet card, a $9.99 Firefly remote control and some $5 memory. Even after shipping costs, I saved a fortune.
Intrigued, I explored the virtual aisles of eBay a bit more carefully. Things definitely weren't "business as usual." While many collectors' items still fetch good money, run-of-the-mill items aren't attracting as much interest. In fact, many respectable gadgets aren't getting any bids at all.
The used market seems to have dried up alongside the broader economy. That surprised me a tad, because I assumed bargain hunters would turn to sites like eBay in droves. Instead, many people are choosing to keep their wallets in their back pockets, even with amazing deals to be had. Dare I say it? The American bargain hunter is behaving like an endangered species.
The company confirmed my hunch a few days ago by reporting its first ever quarterly revenue decline. Gross merchandise volume was down a stunning 12% in the last three months of 2008, capping off a second consecutive quarter of decline. I suspect the first few months of 2009 will be even worse as people struggle to pay off Christmas overindulgence and fret about the future.
However, every cloud has a silver lining. If you have a few extra dollars to spare, this might be the perfect time to pick up a beautiful Super 8 camera, vintage turntable or 8-bit video game system for next to nothing. What do you think? Have you noticed a slowdown on eBay and other second-hand sites?