Analysis: Buying Sneakers on eBay

The Problem:  Didn’t get that quickstrike release? Still getting dusted by bots on Twitter RSVP?  Too old to camp out?  Yep.  Same here at Campless. Assuming you’re just like us, left to chasing auctions, hoping for a decent resell price while weeding out fake AJs, this might be for you.  We’re kicking off our new series of sneaker data analysis articles by sharing a strategy on how to approach the sometimes cutthroat environment of online sneaker auctions.  It’s a very simple recommendation actually, but you can rest assured that any tip you get from us will be backed by data.

Hypothesis:  The best deals disappear quickly

Data set:  121,361 eBay sales for deadstock, men’s Air Jordan Retro III – XIV (173 different models) from April 2012 through May 2013

Analysis:  The average sales price increases the longer it takes the eBay listing to end.  This may seem intuitive, but note, this is not stating the obvious fact that an auction price increases the longer it runs; this is about how quickly it takes to sell.  The key insight is really the inverse:  the lowest average price can be found in eBay listings which end quickly – whether Buy-it-Now or actual auction.

  • 0 to 1 days:  $270
  • 2-4:                 $274
  • 5-7:                 $276
  • 8-10:               $294
  • 11-20:            $326
  • 20+:                $336

When we plot the data on a graph we can see a very clear upward slope after 7 days.  That’s telling us that we should ignore auctions that last over 7 days, and should avoid any Buy-it-Now pair that’s been sitting for more than a week.

Auctions over time chart v3

This also explains why, when you go to eBay to check the price of a pair of sneakers, the price is often higher than you’d expect.  What you’re seeing is mostly those overpriced auctions which have been sitting around for a while – hence why they’re still sitting around.

Recommendation:  Wait for the next auction to be posted.  Don’t let stale auctions artificially increase your perception of fair market value.

Qualitative Analysis (your turn):  What’s your preferred strategy for trying to find a deal in a sneaker auction?  Buy-it-Now?  Snipe at the end?  Something else?

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