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eBay’s ‘lockdown shopping’ look back

From Tiger King to Normal People, eBay reveals how popular quarantine culture has changed the nation’s shopping habits.

With Britain’s pub gardens, picnic spots and beaches closed for business, the nation has spent more time tuning into the TV in lockdown, and what’s been on-screen mirrors what is in the UK’s shopping baskets according to eBay UK.

From filling the Eurovision void in our living rooms in May, to the chain reaction caused by Connell’s iconic necklace in April, eBay’s look behind the scenes plots out the cultural timeline of lockdown, against consumers’ shopping habits over the past few months.

In March, as the nation obsessed over Tiger King, it seems that the hit show also had an unlikely effect on fashion. Since the series launched on March 20, there has been almost a search every minute for leopard print clothing. eBay data also shows that blonde wigs – inspired by Joe Exotic’s mullet – were searched for every two minutes.

April saw a new obsession for many as Irish heartthrob Connell appeared in Normal People, causing something of a stir. But it was his silver chain which really got consumers hot under the collar – it even gained its own Instagram page with over 176,000 followers. eBay data shows that searches of ‘silver chain’ were up 70% and 40 searches were made every hour since the show aired.

The month after the show aired, sex toy sales were also up 53% from the same time in the previous month, even outselling the traditional Valentine’s Day peak.

May saw Stephanie Meyer announce that she would be publishing a new instalment in the Twilight series. As fans looked to relive the Team Edward, Team Jacob drama of the 00s, the books flew off the shelf, with almost 20 times as many searches for the original book than in the previous month.

The nation also stocked up on karaoke machines in May – up 168% – maybe to recreate the cancelled Eurovision in their own homes.

In addition, when the BBC announced it would be launching a pop-up Glastonbury channel in June, searches for camping chairs were up 47% compared to 2019 and projectors were up by 126% as music fans got prepared to pull up a (camping) chair and stream the best of the festival from their gardens.

Staying with the outdoors, searches for football boots increased by almost 85% after May 10 when Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the UK was allowed unlimited outdoor exercise. Table tennis searches also dropped by 57% as we switched to bigger courts, with tennis rackets soaring by 45%.

Speaking of football, when Bundesliga was announced as the first league to return to the pitch on May 16, fans starved of the beautiful game rushed to discover their German alter-ego – German football shirt sales grew 21% in May, compared to April.

Finally, many of us developed green fingers as we rediscovered the joy of our gardens. Searches for flowers on eBay bloomed by 85% in May compared to 2019, while gardening tools were up 120% on the previous year.

However, not all of us trust in our growing talents it seems… searches for artificial flowers shot up even higher, by 129%.

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