A shopping lockdown look back

Press Release

From Tiger King to Twilight, eBay reveals how popular quarantine culture has changed the nation's shopping habits

  • Crushing on Connell in Normal People led to 40 searches for ‘silver chain’ every hour since the show aired

  • A bunch of cool cats and kittens, since Tiger King launched, there have been 53 searches every hour for leopard print, and a search every two minutes for Joe Exotic blonde wigs

  • Inspired by the celebs cover of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, the nation turned their hand to making music,  with searches for microphones soaring by 80%


London, 9th June 2020 - With Britain’s pub gardens, picnic spots and beaches closed for business, the nation has spent more time tuning into the TV in lockdown, and what’s been on screen mirrors what is in the UK’s shopping baskets according to eBay UK. 


From filling the Eurovision void in our living rooms in May, to the chain reaction caused by Connel’s iconic necklace in April, eBay’s look behind the scenes plots out the cultural timeline of lockdown, against our shopping habits over the past few months.


The unlikely icons of lockdown

20th March - Whilst the nation obsessed over Tiger King, and got into deep WhatsApp conversations with friends over who killed Carole Baskin’s husband, it seems that the hit show had an unlikely effect on fashion. Since the series launched on 20th March,  there has been almost a search every minute for leopard print clothing, including leopard print suits for those looking to make a bold statement In a bid to recreate the controversial stars of the show for their weekly family quiz, eBay data shows that blonde wigs, inspired by Joe Exotic’s iconic mullet, were searched for every two minutes. 


26th April - For some, lockdown meant love and lust got put on hold, so when Irish heartthrob Connell appeared on the nation’s TV screens in Normal People on 26th April, it’s fair to say, he caused quite the stir. But it wasn’t his dashing good looks or Irish charm that got the nation excited, no.  It was his silver chain that really got us all hot under the collar, even gaining its own Instagram page (at a last look it was on 176k followers). Looking at eBay data, it looks like girls want their boyfriends to be him, and boys want to be just like him, with search data showing that searches of ‘silver chain’ were up 70% and 40 searches were made every hour since the show aired. The month after the show aired, sex toy sales were also up 53% from the same time in the previous month, even outselling the traditional Valentine’s Day peak. A coincidence? We think not.


4th May - Vampire fans rejoiced when Stephanie Meyer announced that she would be publishing a new installation in the Twilight series on 4th May. As we looked to relive the Team Edward, Team Jacob drama of the 00s, the books flew off the shelf, with almost 20 times as many searches for the original book than in the previous month. Dig your fangs into that.


Music struck a chord

18th March - On this day, our favourite celebrities teamed up to cover John Lennon classic 'Imagine'. It seems that the rendition sparked us at home to channel our inner superstar singer and turn our living rooms into a stage, as eBay searches show that searches for microphones were up 80% on the previous month, while microphone stands also reached new high notes, up by 30%. Search data also shows that men wanted to channel their inner Paul McCartney, with searches for 'The Beatles' in menswear on eBay increasing by 67% from the previous month. 


16th May - For some, the cancellation of the final of Eurovision was a lockdown blessing, but for many fans across the UK, there was a musical void which needed to be filled. But, the show must go on, and the nation stocked up on 168% more karaoke machines, and recreated the contest at home instead. No doubt with some equally as questionable performances.



26th May - As the nation looked set to pack up the glitter, sequins, dry shampoo and wellies for 2020, BBC came to the rescue, announcing on the 26th of May that it would be launching a pop-up Glastonbury channel in June, to help festival-goers get their camping hit at fix. The week that this was announced, searches for camping chairs were up 47% compared to 2019, and projectors were up by 126%, as we got prepared to pull up a (camping) chair and stream the best of Glastonbury from our gardens.


Shake your tambourines (and saucepans!)

26th May - For ten weeks, the nation stood on their doorsteps, balconies and streets to ‘clap for our carers’. But as the weeks went on, clapping wasn’t enough and the nation stocked up on instruments, and even kitchen utensils to make some noise. Whilst some people opted for the traditional tambourine (up 41% in searches), others looked to wanted to cook up a louder sound, with saucepan searches soaring by 66% compared to 2019.


Hobby of the day

10th May - All keen to make the most of being outdoors, when Boris Johnson announced on 10th May in his speech that the UK was allowed unlimited outdoor exercise, we got equipped to transfer from our gardens to tackle the park instead. Whilst basketball hoops dropped by 57%, searches for football boots increased by almost 85%, with so much extra space to now have a run around in. Table tennis searches also dropped by 57% as we switched to bigger courts, with tennis rackets soaring by 45%. 


16th May - With football off of our screens, for many football fans lockdown was made harder without national championships to keep them entertained, however the nation showed that not even quarantine was going to stop their love of sport. When Bundesliga was announced as the first league to return to the pitch on 16th May, UK footy fanatics rushed to discover their German alter-ego. Getting behind a team of their choice, German football shirt sales shot up 21% in May, compared to April.


Green screen

18th May - When the Chelsea Flower Show went virtual from 18th May, the budding gardeners amongst us tuned in and were keen to grow their own. Searches for flowers on eBay bloomed by 85% compared to in 2019,  and some of us were ready to get stuck in the mud, with gardening tools up by 120% on the previous year. However, it seems not all of us don't trust our own green thumbs, as searches for artificial flowers shot up even higher, by 129%! 



Note to Editor

*eBay sales data (Feb-May 2019 / Feb-May 2020)

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Jessica Brand