As some of you have already seen on Twitter, I’ve been selling some stuff on eBay lately, and today being the last day of their free listings, my wife wanted to sell some things too. So she came to me with this question: “What’s the best time to end an eBay auction?”
I was wondering the same thing when selling my old laptop a couple of days ago, but didn’t really have the time to dig into this subject then. Today I’ve found the time; and I’m sure those thousands (or millions really) of us that don’t rely on eBay to make a living — but just want to sell a thing or two now and then — will also find this information of help. Hence, the idea for this post.
While the answer to this question will be somewhat dependent on the audience you’re targeting (are you selling to students, stay-at-home Moms, businesspeople, etc?), the overall answer will be tied to eBay’s visitor statistics — particularly, split into days of the week, and times of the day.
About.com has an interesting article on the subject where Aron Hsiao writes:
Peak visitorship on eBay runs in daily and weekly cycles following the same pattern seen around most of the World Wide Web. In general, traffic flows according to the following two simple rules:
- Daily peak visitorship is between 8:00 PM eastern time and 10:00 PM pacific time. To maximize bidding for daily peak time, list your auction during this window so that it will close during this window and gain the largest possible daily audience.
- Weekly peak visitorship is on Sunday evening. To match your listing to the weekly peak in order to maximize bidding, list so that your auction will close on a Sunday evening between 8:00 PM eastern time and 10:00 PM pacific time. Listing seven-day auctions every Sunday evening is a convenient way to time your auctions well without having to think about it too much, while also avoiding the surcharge on 10-day listings.
Using these simple rules, you can maximize your bids on an ongoing basis. List seven-day or ten-day auctions whenever possible and time them to end on Sunday evenings.
Aron’s advice seems to match these observations:
Experts agree that a seven day auction is best. The primary reason for the longer auction is to attract more attention and viewers to what you are selling… Typically, Sunday is considered the best day to end an auction followed closed by Saturday and then Friday.
Perhaps thought the most important timing factor of an auction is the actual time that is does end. You should shoot for auctions that end between 10 and midnight Eastern US time.
I was also able to find two interesting studies on the subject — both somewhat dated, but still relevant.
First of all, there is an eBay Seller Central Report: How Buyers Use eBay (2005) which has some extremely interesting stats on eBay buyers‘ demographics, browsing patterns, eBay categories of interest, and much more. Speaking of traffic-related questions, on page 10 it shows us the following two graphs:
On the same page the report says:
A well-timed listing will be live on a Monday, perhaps even two Mondays with a 10 day auction
- More visitors tend to come on weekdays
- Traffic is heaviest on Mondays and Sundays
Another study worth turning to is a study by David Steiner of AuctionBytes.com who over 4 years (1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003) was polling eBay sellers to find out the best day and time to end an auction.
Here are David’s two tables (highlighting mine):
Based on all of the above data, here are my conclusions:
Day of Week: When possible, end your auction on Sunday. Saturday is your second choice, but it isn’t nearly as good as Sunday.
Time of Day: Aim at ending your eBay auction at 9 pm (+/- 1 hour) Central Time. Second option: the following 3 hours.
If you’re trading on eBay, and have more knowledge/observations to share, I would certainly appreciate your contribution (please use the “Comments” are below for this).
8 thoughts on “Best Time and Day to End eBay Auctions”
Speaking of buying trends have you seen the purchase trends of the “pay cycle” We’re noticing that every two weeks there is a spike and Targeted emails do MUCH better on those days.
Jared, is this also on eBay or in general?
I’m not sure about eBay, but I was digging into my program and a few other I am the OPM for and am seeing that the 1st and 3rd (especially the 3rd) week in the month is when more purchases are made. It seems obvious that people are buying when they are paid, and that more people are getting paid on a biweekly basis.
You mentioned people that are “paid bi-weekly” and “1st & 3rd” week of the month. Just so you are aware, people who are paid biweekly get 26 paychecks per year, so some months they will get paid on the 1st & 3rd weeks, but other weeks, they will get paid on the 2nd & 4th. In addition, not all employers that pay their employees bi-weekly pay them on the same week. So of all the bi-weekly employees, someone is getting paid EVERY week of the year.
Taking that reasoning into account, the reason you are probably seeing an increase on the 1st and 3rd weeks of each month is due to the people that are paid SEMI-MONTHLY. This is similar to Bi-Weekly, but these people only get 24 paychecks per month, and typically they are paid on the 15th and 31st of every month. The only reason I am mentioning this is because considering those dates as the paydate, rather than just “the 1st and 3rd week” might help you change your timing for those months that these people are paid on a Monday.
I accidentally submitted that before proof reading it. Please note where I said “This is similar to Bi-Weekly, but these people only get 24 paychecks per month”, that should actually be 24 paychecks per YEAR.
They get paid every 15-16 days whereas bi-weekly people get paid every 14 period. Semi-monthly is more common for salaried employees, although sometimes hourly employees are paid that way as well. There is one more thing to think about too. Salaried employees typically will be paid more than hourly employees. (I know this is not always the case, that is why I said typically).
Hope this helps. Have a WONDERFUL evening!
For simplicities sake I didn’t include the rotation of spending that occurs with 26 paychecks a year, or the random 3rd check in a month every 6 months. But you are more than correct that these dates can shift a bit. But even with the shift, I see in my industry (recreation) that people are willing to spend more in the first week (I paid the mortgage and have lots left over)or the third week (All the bills are paid and I have left over). Our customers are typically Male 35 – 45, well educated and making over 80K a year. I think that more merchants need to look into their own sales trends, and think out of the box. Why are these trends here, what happens to the country on these dates, what was in the news. Some think too locally about the banners they run, or a sale they had, and when the dates don’t correspond they scratch their head and move on leaving money making changes on the table. For example we now send out deals in the first week, Brand the second week, Big ticket in week 3, and New item/event notification in week 4. and I’m keeping week 5 a secret.
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I think this analysis is off the mark a bit. I don’t think most bids will come from people that happen to be browsing for listings ending right away – if that were the case then yes, it would be vaild to say the number of people online is a good measure for the price your item fetches. Instead the way I think it works is that people become aware of your item over the week, and if they do want it they will be online to bid on it if it’s at a reasonable time. You may have a small effect from people browsing ending listings or people who saw it earlier and are only bidding because they are online at that time. I think what’s more important is that you schedule it to end at a time when people are home and don’t have a lot to do (again which is why afternoon/evening sunday is best).