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Tag Sales Move Online

  |  November 28, 2005   |  Comments

More and more Internet users sell goods on online classified ad and auction sites.

Online classifieds sites and auctions emerge as America's new tag sale. A report jointly released by Pew Internet & American Life Project and comScore Communications says 25 million individuals have sold items online.

The two main channels for online sales are online classifieds and online auction sites. Some two percent of Internet sell goods online each day, while 17 percent of all Internet users say they've sold something in the virtual yard sale. In the past year, visits to online classified sites grew 80 percent, while 20 percent of Web users say they've used online auctions or classifieds to buy, research or sell items.

Online classified ad sites accounted for a combined 26 million unique visitors in September 2005. That's an 80 percent increase over traffic to classifieds in September 2004.

Unique Visitors to Classified Sites, September 2004 and 2005
Unique Visitors (000)
Classified Site September 2004 September 2005 Change (%)
Total Internet Audience 158,042 169,232 7
Classifieds.com 14,626 26,349 80
craigslist.org 3,425 8,764 156
Trader Publishing Company 4,305 8,180 90
cars.com 2,767 3,749 35
apartments.com 1,560 2,102 35
Abracat 1,364 959 -30
Homescape 596 826 39
Puppydogweb.com 590 799 35
Live Deal 767 797 4
tribe N/A 721 N/A
RegionalHelpWanted.com sites 964 685 -29
Yahoo Classifieds 979 573 -42
uscity.net 199 426 113
backpage.com N/A 417 N/A
MySpace.com Classifieds N/A 401 N/A
hoobly.com 221 388 75
Source: comScore Media Metrix, September 2005

A quarter of Internet users have either bought or sold items in online auctions, up from the 15 percent reported in 2000.

Online sellers tend to fall into the "early adopter" category. Several key demographic factors regulate online sellers:

  • Internet enthusiasts: Twenty-three percent of Internet users who go online daily post items for sale, versus the 9 percent who go online just a few times a week.
  • Broadband access: 30 percent of those with high-speed access at both home and work sell used possessions and other goods online. An additional 22 percent of home broadband users and 23 percent of those who with broadband access at work also sell online. In contrast, only 13 percent of dial-up users post auctions and classifieds.
  • Online experience: Twenty-three percent have used the Web for six years or longer; 11 percent of sellers logged four to five years. Five percent of online sellers have been online between two and three years.
  • Age: The majority of sellers (26 percent) fall into Generation X (29 to 40 years old). Seventeen percent belong to the Generation Y (18 to 28 years old); and 13 percent of Web users over 40 sell items online.
  • Gender: Twenty percent of men with Internet access and 14 percent of women sell goods online.
  • Household income: About 21 percent of Internet households with an annual income of $50,000 or more sell online; 13 percent of online households with an annual income below $30,000 sell online.
  • Education: Twenty-one percent of college graduates, 13 percent of high-school graduates and nine percent of those with no high-school diploma sell items online.
  • Ethnicity: 19 percent of white Internet users and 16 percent of English-speaking Hispanics with Internet access sell goods online. Six percent of wired African-American users sell online.

The findings came from a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the Internet. Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted a phone survey between September 14 and October 13 of this year. Data include answers from a sample of 2,251 adults. comScore data are from comScore Media Metrix's online audience measurement service.

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Enid Burns

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