Independent small businesses and entrepreneurs across California, the United States and in markets around the world have been greatly impacted by the unique and complex economic and social challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting this vibrant, creative and compassionate community during these difficult times has been core to our mission. To demonstrate how eBay has empowered and provided growth opportunities to small enterprises in our home state of California, especially during the pandemic, we published a new report exploring how these sellers were able to quickly turn to our digital marketplace and increase their focus on connecting with our 185 million shoppers worldwide.
A range of shutdowns, restrictions and mandates were imposed on retailers beginning in March 2020. eBay helped small businesses, both existing and new to online, quickly adapt and meet the growing customer ecommerce demand, and help compensate for oftentimes declining local retail demand and foot traffic. In the six months following the initial pandemic lockdowns of March 2020, the number of eBay-enabled small businesses in California grew 30 percent over the same time frame in the previous year. Sales by eBay-enabled small businesses in the state grew by an even greater 44 percent compared to April – September of 2019. The report also includes three seller stories that touch on how they were able to stay connected with their global customer base during the pandemic via eBay.
Since the company’s founding over 25 years ago, small enterprises have successfully used the eBay marketplace to sell their goods to customers around the world and increase their revenue streams. Our research also demonstrates that eBay-enabled independent small businesses in California have been engaging in global trade at a scale once reserved for the very largest corporations. A massive 97 percent of these California small businesses export and reach on average 19 different countries with their goods. We also found that the export rate and reach of women-owned eBay-enabled small business match these figures. This dwarfs the data for traditional brick & mortar California businesses, of which on 1.7 percent export and reach on average only three foreign markets.
Additionally, our new report provides evidence that access to customers across the US and around the world through the eBay marketplace, which provided small business growth opportunities during the pandemic, has been delivering economic growth in California’s rural and economically challenged communities for years. For example, from 2011-2017, rural counties across California faced a loss of traditional businesses (-0.1 percent), while the number of eBay-enabled small businesses grew 3.4 percent. Additionally, rural counties such as Lake, Nevada and Tuolumne experienced eBay-enabled small business growth at double-digit levels.
The spirit, energy, adaptability and resilience of small retailers and entrepreneurs across California is a clear example of how independent small businesses must remain a central feature of the economic future of the state. All of these findings demonstrate that empowering independent small businesses to use technology to reach remote consumer markets, while operating in and supporting their local community, is a tool for long-term equitable and inclusive growth as well as economic resiliency. This will remain an eBay priority in California, across America and around the world.