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New Report Details how eBay Boosted Small Businesses During the Pandemic

May 3, 2021

Small businesses have been at the heart of the eBay marketplace since our founding more than 25 years ago. Supporting this vibrant community of sellers, especially through the complex challenges created by COVID-19, has been our top priority. Following the initial lockdowns of March 2020, the ability for small enterprises to reach consumers where they were located - rather than just from a physical storefront - became, in many cases, vital to their survival. Today, we published a new report detailing how eBay helped small businesses quickly adapt to these changing conditions during the initial months of the pandemic and connect with 187 million shoppers around the world. As evidence of the value of this partnership, a recent survey of eBay small businesses revealed that 84 percent said that eBay was essential to keeping their business open and connected to consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The success of small businesses’ adoption of ecommerce through the eBay marketplace is evident in the 34 percent jump in the number of US eBay small businesses from April 1 to September 30, 2020 compared to that time period in 2019. Sales by eBay-enabled small businesses across the country grew by an even greater 38 percent compared to April to September of 2019. In fact, some of the most striking jumps in eBay sellers and their sales came from the most remote and rural states, pointing to the power of ecommerce to allow small businesses to reach consumers outside their immediate region. 

The report showcases many of the people behind these small businesses, who are incredibly passionate about their enterprises and work tirelessly to meet the needs of their customers. Laurie Wong from Powder Springs, Georgia is the owner of Reflections of Trinity. Laurie has always used her success to help others in need. For over 15 years, she has used eBay to grow her thrift store and build a non-profit charity that supplies clothing, shoes, accessories, and food to those in need in her community. Having served tens of thousands of people already, the pandemic brought thousands more to her door. Her eBay sales have enabled her to sustain her business and continue supporting those in need.

Laurie Wong, eBay Seller

“The COVID pandemic has increased the number of people in our community who need help from our food bank,” Laurie said. “We would not have been able to keep up with demand if it weren’t for eBay!”

Our new report also demonstrates how the sustained power of the eBay marketplace to empower small businesses to reach beyond their local economies has paid quieter but equally important dividends for years by turning small businesses into successful global traders. For example, 96 percent of US eBay small businesses are exporters and reach on average 16 countries with their goods. This stands in stark contrast to the 0.9% of traditional businesses that export and only reach an average of 4 countries. This export activity has helped foster enterprise growth in rural and more economically challenged counties, places that too often otherwise suffer from economic stagnation. Our research exhibits that the number of small businesses on eBay in America’s rural counties grew 13.7 percent from 2011–2018, while it flatlined at 0.4 percent in the overall rural economy.

The spirit, energy, adaptability and resilience of small businesses across the United States is a clear example of how these enterprises must remain a central feature of the nation’s economic future. eBay-enabled small businesses helped alleviate economic shocks and continue local operations that maintained jobs and incomes in communities across the country. We remain steadfast in our commitment to using technology to empower people, foster recovery and create economic opportunity for all, in order to emerge with a stronger, more resilient, equitable and inclusive economy.

You can download the report here.