Happy birthday eBay! Celebrate 18 years with 18 amazing facts about online shopping

Can you guess what was 2016's most searched for board game or Christmas toy?

This month eBay.co.uk turns 18. To celebrate this coming of age, its released its second annual UK Retail Report to share an insight into the big shopping trends of the last year. Here are 18 fun facts about eBay online shopping trends and habits today...

1. Sales of all things retro have soared

The release of Netflix's hit show Stranger Things sparked feelings of nostalgia and a 1980s revival – with searched-for show-related items up 400 per cent up last July.

This back-to-the-old-school vibe was present in the world of music, too, with vinyl outselling digital downloads. eBay revealed that nearly 280,000 vinyl discs were sold in the last three months of 2016 – that's one every 30 seconds! That's got out heads in a spin. Who knew records were so popular?!

2. We're emulating our sporting heroes

August 2016 saw Team GB winning at Rio, promoting searches for Brompton Bikes to go through the roof whenever a big cycling race was on! Earlier this summer, Roger Federer's Wimbledon victory sent searches for Tennis merchandise volleying sky high, with a increase of 141 per cent.

3. We're taking a screen break

Last year saw us trading smart screens for traditional board games. Speak Out was the hero game of last year, with over 14 searches per second during its peak in September. The classics were still going strong, too. All-time favourite Monopoly was searched for every minute in the December, as we geared up for family fun and games over the festive period.

board games with drink glass and gift

(Image credit: Future PLC/mark scott)

4. iPhone domination

There's no getting away from the fact that Apple is dominating the world of smart phones, with millions searching for the iPhone 7 when it was released in September 2016. Apple's iPhone has remained the most searched smart device on eBay in the UK, with sales exceeding £1 billion in the last year.

Here's a fun fact – Brits have spent more than 730 million minutes on eBay searching for iPhone accessories. That's the equivalent amount of time as watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy over one million times. That's excessive, even super-fan standards.

5. Christmas toy searches

Prepared parents were searching for the big toys for Christmas 2016 way back in October. Recording a staggering four searches per second was the most-wanted toy, the Hatchimal. That was followed closely by Paw Patrol, generating two searches a second, evidence that no parent wants to be caught out without the most coveted toy of that year! Given these stats, you might want to start looking for the toy of this Christmas now.

6. Black Friday deals

Black Friday is a huge day in the shopping calendar. Last year saw eBay customers price-checking key items the week before, to bag the best deal on the day. Over 20 million of us visited eBay on Black Friday last year – the equivalent to the entire population of Romania logging in to land a bargain.

Related: Black Friday 2016; the best kitchen, home and furniture deals

7. Sticking to clean eating

It's no longer just post-Christmas that we blend, pulp and chop greens to stay healthy! Less than two months before Christmas 2016, there was a surge in sales of 'clean eating' gadgets such as food processors, blenders and spiralizers – with a 10 per cent month-on-month increase for blenders alone. The health hero of early 2017 has to be turmeric, with searches up on January 4th up 660 per cent from the day before.

herb with books and scissors

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

8. Hospitality at home

In December 2016 searches for cocktail-mixing accessories were up 23 per cent. Proving we no longer have to go out out to have a good time.

9. Movie fan madness

One of the biggest films of 2016 was La La Land, and a result searches for a summery 'yellow dress' increased threefold in January thanks to the movie. The long-awaited return of Game of Thrones back in July had us searching for costumes and DVDs to epic proportions – with more than 22 related items sold per hour in the run up to the new series.

Are you a huge Game of Thrones fan? Check out Get the Game of Thrones look in your living room

10. Car repair DIY

As a nation we appear to be into fixing minor car problems ahead of an MOT to save money. Windscreen wipers and headlight bulbs are amongst the most popular searched-for items, however engines saw searches spiking in February 2017 with two per hour!

11. Happy campers

As early as February 2017, us Brits were getting excited about Spring sunshine, with searches for camping equipment rising dramatically. When the sun finally did arrive, making this June the hottest in 176 years, we purchased paddling pools aplenty. Searches peaked on June 19th at nine searches per minute.

12. World Book Day triggered a fancy dress frenzy

March 2nd marked World Book Day, which saw parents spend more than £386,000 on costumes for the children. Harry Potter remained the literary hero this year, with more than 40,000 searches in the lead up to World Book Day.

13. Valuable footware

Trainers are no longer just footwear for sports and casual, we are wearing them even for work. Trainers are, in fact, amongst the most collectable items of 2017 with values going up all the time. When Adidas launched the infamous Yeezy Boost trainer in April 2017, eBay reported a 172 per cent increase in searches. With the trainers selling for more than 10 times the original value, it appeared to be a wise fashion investment.

14. Fidget spinners

New hero products came into the charts for the first time this year, Fidget spinners being the most popular. Unless you've been in hiding in a cave, you'll be well aware of the Fidget spinner, the child pacifier, that back in April of this year peaked at nearly two searches per second!

This simple, relatively inexpensive gadget really had parents in a spin, clearly.

15. Royal babies

Searches for Princess Charlotte increased tenfold on 2nd May 2017, her 2nd birthday, showing what a trend influencer she is even at such a young age. Older brother Prince George also continues to capture the heart of the nation with his traditional style outfits. Searches for 'Prince George' increased by 30 per cent on his birthday, compared to the previous week.

16. Moving house in May

May continues to be a big month for moving home, with cardboard box sales on eBay increasing by 62 per cent in the first week of the month. It suggests spring is the time to start afresh, indicating that January/February is a good time to think about selling up home if you want to be boxed up by May.

green car with white pillars and trees

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Spike Powell)

17. Back to school

Parents were well prepared for the term this year, with searches for school uniforms starting to rise as early as June 2017, peaking on 21st August. Interestingly, 76 per cent of those searches were on mobile, showing that parents on-the-go were prepping for the new school year while still in holiday mode!

18. Festival appearances are music to our ears

It's always the way that festivals showcase artists that you might not have heard before, or maybe just not thought to buy an album. Ed Sheeran's performance at Glastonbury in June of this year quadrupled searches for his music in one day! The much-anticipated ticket release for Ed's 2018 UK & Ireland tour generated a search per second on 8th July.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.