Terapeak Trends: Evaluating Thanksgiving Sales on eBay.com

By Aron Hsiao, Terapeak Social on October 17, 2013

Caught in between back-to-school season and the holiday shopping rush, Thanksgiving is an often-forgotten holiday, particularly when it comes to across-the-board retail.

What sells on eBay.com in the months before the Thanksgiving holiday? Here's a hint—and we're not talking about the food. (Image: Public Domain)

Is there a Thanksgiving selling season? Does it actually represent a surge in demand? If so, how big is it?

Right now, in mid-to-late October, it's the perfect time to run these kinds of numbers on Terapeak, since we can get details on two years' worth of related keyword trends—seasonal 2012 data and any hint of a Thanksgiving sales surge occurring right now, in 2013, as we enter the month before the holiday.

For most sellers, it's too late at this point to make hay with any Thanksgiving demand that emerges (though a list at our set of holiday sourcing tips certainly wouldn't be a bad idea), but if the data suggests opportunity, getting a handle on Thanksgiving can help some sellers to get a handle on Thanksgiving season next year.

Product Trend Data, 2012 and 2013

When we take a look at the trendlines for total sales and total listings sold for both 2012 and 2013, the results are obvious:


"Thanksgiving" trends on eBay.com, October-January 2012

"Thanksgiving" trends on eBay.com, July-October 2013

The trendlines for 2012 show the final two-thirds of a significant increase in "Thanksgiving" volume and listings sold, with peaks at around $39,000 in daily volume on just under 2,000 items.

The trendlines for 2013 show that we're on track for a similar result this year—with recent highs at $23,000 in daily volume on around 1,000 items and still steadily climbing.

Overall, it looks as though year-round low normals of around $2,000 in daily volume on 100-200 items begin to steadily increase in late August. The season hits its peak during the second week of November, tapering off after that until falling to year-round low normals once against just about the time people in the U.S. are eating their turkey and watching football games.

How big is the opportunity? The 2012 data tell us that total sales for the Thanksgiving selling period run well into the millions, more than enough for interested sellers justify paying attention.

What Sells at Thanksgiving Time

Using the overview data for our 90-day period in 2012, we can see that the most frequently associated keyword in listings was "turkey," while the biggest cluster of goods was in collectibles. This suggests that people are shopping online for Thanksgiving-related decor and primitives above all else.

Since we're in the thick of the Thanksgiving selling season this year, it's a good time to check for a more complete list of associated categories and keywords:


Percentage of "Thanksgiving" listings by category on eBay.com

The product data here is spread across a range of categories, but upon further inspection, the following clusters stand out:

  • Nearly 50 percent of listed goods are in collectible or decor categories, with postcards deserving special recognition as an interesting and important Thanksgiving-oriented genre of goods.

  • Nearly 40 percent of listed goods are in girls apparel, with almost all of the products being for girls from birth through the ages of 4 or 5 years old, the converse of back-to-school trends, when it's school-aged girls that are enjoying wardrobe additions.

The takeaway from the category data, when combined with trend data above, is that there is in fact a selling opportunity during the Thanksgiving season—in vintage and collectible decor and in holiday outfits for toddler girls.

Before we wrap up, we'll take a look at the Thanksgiving-related keyword data from the Hot Research tool to find out what, in particular, shoppers are looking for:


Popular "Thanksgiving" search terms on eBay.com

What we see here reinforces our previous conclusions, but provides a more detailed picture. Notable here are: vintage, figurines, table, tablecloth, crafts, centerpiece, print, platter, dishes, plates, and decorations.

If you're interested in making the most of the Thanksgiving shopping season next year, keep your eyes peeled for thanksgiving outfits for young girls as well as thanksgiving dinnerware, figurines, centerpieces, and other enhancements to the holiday's dinner table.

Given the American tradition of joyous eating to a state of incapacity for the Thanksgiving holiday, we might have suspected as much—but with data now in hand, we know just what to look for and how much opportunity there is to be seized when turkey time rolls around once more next year.

To see how Terapeak can help you to start and grow your business, take advantage of Terapeak's free trial subscription today.

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