eBay for Small Business

‘Listing them out’: 20 facts to mark eBay’s 20th birthday

This September marks eBay’s 20th birthday. To celebrate, the online marketplace has revealed 20 facts from its history which show how it has grown from a software programmer’s hobby into a global shopping destination with approximately 25 million sellers, 157 million buyers and 800 million listings  – over 82% of which are for fixed price items.

1995 saw eBay born in the US – opening for business over Labor Day weekend – the first item it sold was a laser pointer.

eBay arrived in the UK in 1999 when a fifth of UK homes still bleeped to the tune of internet  dial up and Posh and Becks tied the knot.

The first item sold on eBay.co.uk was a three track CD from German rock outfit The Scorpions. It sold for £2.89. Fast forward to 2015 and eBay’s UK marketplace is visited by 18m Brits each month.

2001 saw one of the most expensive items ever sold on eBay.co.uk – a $4.9m private jet.

 Though the last episode of Friends aired in 2004, research from eBay.co.uk in 2015 revealed that Friends and Sex and the City still influence British hones and interiors style more than any other TV shows.

2006 – eBay for Charity launches in the UK. Close to £90m has now been raised from the generosity of Brits buying and selling through the site.   Here are some of our favourites:

·         Princess Beatrice’s hat (‘the pretzel’) from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding fetched more than £80,000 on eBay with proceeds going to Unicef and Children in Crisis.

·         Harry Styles’ bow tie sold for more than £3,500 with proceeds going to Believe in Magic.

·         This July, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall also used the site to auction off the wristband that was thrown into the Royal Box by Andy Murray at Wimbledon in aid of The Animal Care Trust  

Since 2007, eBay has sold more than 241 million pairs of shoes across the globe – that's four pairs for every person in Italy.

2008 saw the value of sales on eBay.co.uk exceed the GDP of a whopping 68 countries.

2008 also saw the eBay app launch in the UK, just two months after its US debut as the first commerce app on iTunes.   In 2015, the eBay app has now been downloaded 279 million times, and in the UK a pair of ladies shoes every six seconds, a tablet each minute and a car is every 2 minutes, via mobile.

For the first time “Buy It Now!” listings hit 40% of overall listings on eBay in the UK.


2009 – eBay.co.uk turned 10. On its 10th anniversary, 123,000 British businesses were trading on eBay – 170 of whom were pulling in sales of more than £1m a year through eBay sales alone. The marketplace also recorded its 950 millionth global sale.

2010 – More Brits shopped through the eBay mobile app than any other country in Europe, snapping up fashion items. Buy-it-now sales also overtook auctions for the first time – accounting for almost two thirds of listings on the UK marketplace.

2011’s Royal Wedding and countless street parties saw bunting become a huge deal in British homes. Today eBay.co.uk sells more than 3,0001 items of bunting a day, including Diamond Jubilee bunting with The Queen’s face.

2011 – mobile accounts for 10% of all purchases on eBay.co.uk by 2011

2013 eBay UK and Argos launch a Click & Collect pilot with 50 eBay sellers. To date, more than 2.5 million eBay purchases have passed through the Click & Collect programme and eBay collection points are available at over 750 Argos stores nationwide.

In 2014, there was a 260% surge in sales of grey wedding dresses after Kim Kardashian graced the front cover of Vogue wearing a Lanvin gown ahead of her much celebrated nuptials.

Yet ‘Kueen’ Kim was not the only one setting colour trends. Sales of yellow dresses saw an uplift of 95% after the Duchess of Cambridge wore the citrus shade on a 19-day Australian and New Zealand tour last year.

2014 – sales of Dolly Parton-related items rose consistently in the build-up to the Glastonbury festival last year, peaking at 315% above average in the days before her performance. There was also a 77% surge in sales of wellies following Glasto 2015.

On Christmas Day 2014, eBay saw listings for tablets and iPads shoot up 43% and listings for perfume increase by 300% as people rushed to sell their unwanted presents during the Queen’s speech. Items listed included MacBook Pros, Canon EOS 6Ds, Aqua Master Watches and Samsung 48” TVs.

Fast forward to 2015 and eBay’s UK marketplace is visited by 18m Brits each month.

More than half the small online retailers on eBay’s UK marketplace are ‘global’, exporting to four or more different continents.

This year, eBay.co.uk revealed that between 12 and 1 on a Sunday afternoon, following traditional gardening programme The Beechgrove Garden, is the most popular time for sellers to sell their wares on eBay. Continuing the gardening theme, the most expensive of the 50,000 sheds currently listed on eBay sell is for close to £5000[1].



eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) is the world’s most vibrant marketplace for discovering great value and unique selection. eBay connects millions of buyers and sellers around the globe, empowering people and creating opportunity through Connected Commerce. Our vision for commerce is one that is enabled by people, powered by technology and open to everyone. We focus on empowering our sellers, not competing with them, and we create stronger connections between buyers and sellers with product experiences that are fast, mobile and secure. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we're just as passionate today about connecting buyers and sellers as when we founded the company in 1995. For more information, visit ebayinc.com.