June 30, 2020 I Pandemic Stories

eBay Reports Major Sales Boom During COVID-19

eBay's Chelsea Walsh

eBay, the online sales platform which reaches 174 million active buyers worldwide, hosted the sale of a musical instrument or related product once every five seconds, on average, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Chelsea Walsh, senior category manager, media and musical instruments at eBay. As many retailers did, it saw online sales surge during the quarantine made necessary by the coronavirus, with MI sales on the platform spiking 35% from March to April, according to Walsh.

“This change is likely due to the fact that many people are trying to stay busy, maybe even picking up new or old hobbies, while they have extra time on their hands,” she said.

When quarantine began, eBay saw a way it could help stores faced with a loss of foot traffic, and shifted its focus to helping retailers not doing business online find their way there through an “up and running” program.

“In order to keep these retailers running and to connect them with new customers, our program offered new businesses a free basic eBay store for three months, waived selling fees for these new businesses and allowed them to sell up to 500 items for free,” she said. “eBay is a very low-risk tool in the sense that retailers can expand their online footprint quickly and in a way that fits naturally into their existing operations. From small businesses that have never used e-commerce before to those that have a web presence but want to reach more customers, any entrepreneur can start listing and selling right away.”

The company also took action to assist its established sellers. To ensure they didn’t feel added pressure in maintaining their eBay stores in the early days of quarantine, eBay deferred fee payments, suspended negative impacts on seller performance standards and provided an additional 100,000 incremental free listings so sellers could list as much inventory as they needed to generate additional income.

So what’s selling? According to Walsh, some is what you’d expect, with guitars, basses and pianos on the rise. “Interestingly, however, DJ equipment has been a breakout product with sales up 60% year-over-year in May, which is the sharpest increase we’ve seen compared to more traditional instruments.”

Much has been made of how the wide shift to online shopping during quarantine may become to some extent permanent, and eBay agrees with this line of thinking. “It’s safe to say that online shopping is more ingrained in shoppers’ day-to-day lives than ever before, and some of the old perceptions they may have had about what and where they buy online have changed,” Walsh said. “People are shifting away from big-box music retailers in search of better selection and value, which is why eBay is so appealing. We have exactly what you’re looking for — whether it’s an entry-level violin for your kids or an ultra-rare Gibson ES-335 guitar — and often at a better price.”


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