When we began polling our users over 4 years ago about the optimal ending time for an eBay auction, the most popular response was Sunday evening. Five surveys later, based on the results we've received, there's still nothing that would keep me from recommending Sunday evening.
If Sunday was a sports team, it would be the NY Yankees, Boston Celtics or Montreal Canadiens. In short, a dynasty.
I've heard the logic for ending auctions on other days: different items do better at different times; people like to shop from work; eBay's servers are slow on Sunday evenings because it's too busy. The last statement brings to mind the famous quote from Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, who, when asked his opinion about a popular restaurant, replied, "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."
This year, nearly 1,000 people responded to the survey. I'll break out the data by category, compare it to past results and also post some of the comments you left. There were some interesting ones. So without further ado, here are the results of our latest survey:
This year's results are almost identical to last year's in preference. You may ask, "Why do this year's results only add up to 92%?" Because we added an extra option for the question this year - "Doesn't Matter". Doesn't Matter, in fact, place third with over 8% of the responses cast.
The most popular ending times are still between 6pm and 12midnight PST. Over 77% of all respondents selected that 6-hour block of time to be best for ending an auction. 3% didn't think it mattered what time an auction ended.
Best Day by Category
There wasn't a significant difference in choice between categories. Sunday pretty much swept the field. There was some variation in secondary preferences, however. 44% of the users taking this survey dealt primarily in Antiques, Art and Collectibles.
Best Time of Day by Category
The interesting development is that at approximately 90% of all respondents across categories chose the 9-hour block of 3pm to midnight to close their auctions.
Finally, here are some of the most thought-provoking comments left by respondents. There are some great insights, and a couple of good laughs:
"For a truly great item in top condition, bidders don't care when it ends; it will sell for good $$. For the vast majority of swap-meet level stuff that is now out on eBay, it's best to try to end on Sunday, when the most people have the most time to surf and bid."
"Early on, a friend gave me a tip - to close on multiple days, so I would keep coming up fresh in the "new today" and "ending today" segments. I usually close on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. I like to lead with Thursday, then Sunday, then Tuesday, then Thursday again."
"A very important question that you forgot to mention is what time do men buy on the auction sites and what time do women buy. These are two entirely different answers. I think that you have to know the behavior of your online clients. If you have no idea as to the answer of the previous two questions then you are not getting top dollar on your auction."
"I think length of auction is equally important - can't you ask that in a survey?"
(Yes, we can. Just not this one.)
"In my opinion, selling is better during winter months, than in summer."
"I think it depends on the items. I find that "guy" stuff ends best on a Sunday night. But "girl" stuff can end happily on Monday night. And Thursday night seems good for anything, but not as good as Sunday or Monday. Also, because of these wonderful surveys, word gets around about Sunday evenings, and there's a lot of competition ending at the same time. I love this shade of pink!"
"A lot of it actually depends on what is on television. I find Thursdays are pretty good, but not now that Survivor/Apprentice are on."
"Fees irritate me."
"My audience seems to derive from those who work in offices at a networked PC. If I have an auction close on Monday around 3:00PM that gives the east and west coast time to get to work, click on eBay and start surfing!"
"Friday is the usual pay day for most weekly paid jobs. So if the auctions end on pay day or over the weekend it gives you a chance to bid more money on the item of your choice and pay quicker knowing your finances for that week and having your money handy to pay quickly. Makes the buyer and seller much happier and the transaction goes smooth."
"I believe it varies from Month-to-Month possibly. Factors: 1) School in session or out on holiday 2) Time change-we change 3) Weather conditions over USA 4) 3-day holidays 5) Summer vacations more +++ 1) Weather condition "
"There probably IS a best time to end an auction - darned if I can figure it out."
And my favorite comment:
"David, Don't you have better things to do with your time? :-)"
View the online discussion on the forums: