Questions and answers about
the UK economy.

Online auction markets in the aftermath of Covid-19

An economically relevant implication of cities lockdowns, perhaps the most popular government policy enacted to limit Covid-19 virus contagion, is putting a stop to retail markets and parallelly boost online ones. In this paper we leverage rich data on more than 5,000 eBay auctions of a number of goods, to test, first, whether the virus spread out led to sizable changes in supply or demand. This is unclear ex-ante as, for example, in electronics the increase in demand for telework or leisure may or may not exceed the increase in supply by sellers either disposing of unused electronics or in need of liquidity if the lockdown has put their job at risk. Second, we test whether changes are observed in the incidence of bidding “anomalies” not predicted by theory but typically in online auctions, such as multiple bids in a single auction or last-minute bids, as they may, on the one hand, increase due to the more frequent use of online devices during the lockdown and, on the other, decrease at times in which intermittent supply of competing online retailers is larger. In our analysis we will exploit information on sellers location and auctions dates to try to capture time variations in the virus spread out to test whether potential changes in supply are observed at different points in time in different countries depending on the timing of the onset of contagion and its speed of diffusion.

Lead investigator:

Francisco Alvarez-Gonzalez


Universidad de Complutense

Primary topic:

Business, big & small

Secondary topic:

Prices & interest rates

Region of data collection:


Status of data collection

In Progress

Type of data being collected:

From private company

Unit of real-time data collection