Next time you hear some media talking head claiming that hurting consumers are running to eBay in droves for better deals, you can call their bluff. Nielsen released data that shows the auction site is continuing to lose eyes as the economy worsens. The data shows a precipitous drop off beginning in September, right around the time the US economy really began to tank.
eBay saw its some of its best times late last year, averaging around 13.5-14.5 million pageviews per month during the holiday season. However, after those good times, the auction site began a essentially steady decline.
You can almost see the point when consumers began to panic. August shows about 11 million pageviews, but by September that had fallen to 9.4 million. October was even worse, ending at about 9.1 million pageviews. The August to September drop was the largest decline outside of the normal post-holiday slump in two years of data.
Now forgive me here — I am no math major — but I’m going to do some number crunching. Using last holiday as a guide, it looks like we can expect about a 10% or so bump up for the holidays. Even if this occurs, eBay’s traffic would be down about 20-30% year over year. This seems about right — October’s traffic numbers were down a third from last year.
The economy may not be the only reason here. Silicon Alley Insider (which I think goes a bit overboard with the title, it is not that bad yet) surmises that stronger competition as well as the fact that eBay’s value proposition isn’t as great is also helping to accelerate the decline.
I’d agree with this: eBay has become less of a bargain these days. I’m noticing that more and more items look like a good deal at first glance, yet the money’s being made elsewhere, whether through “handling” charges, or obviously inflated shipping costs.
eBay’s not helping either, alienating some of its sellers by tinkering with its selling fees far too much.
For those of you that like pretty little charts, I’ve included this data graphically after the jump.