John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Selling Off Personal Possessions on eBay Top of Mind for Holiday Shoppers This Year?

Consumers may not be buying as in years past, but they are browsing. Nielsen Online reports that traffic to online retail sites on Black Friday grew from 28.8 million unique visitors in 2007 to 31.7 million unique visitors in 2008. That’s 10 percent year-over-year growth. (Click on tables, below, to enlarge.)

An impressive showing. And though increased traffic to online retail sites doesn’t necessarily translate into increased spending, Nielsen touts this metric as evidence that consumers are firing up their browsers, credit cards in hand.

“Even with the weakening economy, an unstable stock market and a rising unemployment rate, Black Friday traffic to online retail sites grew at a double-digit rate this year,” said Ken Cassar, vice president, industry insights, Nielsen Online. “Consumers are continuing to shift their holiday shopping to the Web for the convenience of not having to fight the crowds and to further stretch shrinking budgets. The fact that the Shopping Comparison/Portals category was the second fastest growing segment indicates that consumers continue to see the Web as the source for determining the best deals and prices of the season, which we expect to be top of mind for holiday shoppers this year.”

Now, in all likelihood that’s the case. Still, it’s worth noting that Nielsen’s top-ranked Black Friday site was eBay (EBAY), a site visited as often by people looking to sell things as buy them.

How many of the 9.8 million consumers who visited the online auction site on Friday were looking to sell something off for some extra holiday spending money, or simply to make ends meet?

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”