What Time is Best to List (and Therefore End) Your Auctions?

There are twenty four hours in the day, seven days in a week….but when will your item sell best? There is unfortunately no perfect answer for all eBay sellers, but here’s a head start in creating your own ideal formula.

Auction duration basics

  • Sellers have the option to make auction listings last 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 days.
  • The duration of the listing can be changed up to two hours after submitting.
  • The end time of the auction is based on whole day increments after the start time. This means that if a 1 day listing is chosen, an auction starting at 2.13pm one day will finish at exactly 2.13pm the following day.
  • On eBay.com, times are listed in Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Scheduling the start time of auctions

Making life easier for sellers is the feature to schedule the start time of auctions. Using this option, sellers can schedule as many as 3,000 auctions up to 3 weeks in advance. Aside from an additional fee, the catch is that listings may be delayed by up to 15 minutes from their scheduled time. It is also best to schedule it at least a day in advance as listings can take up to 24 hours to show up on searches.

Factors to consider when choosing start/end times

  • Target audience – Think about when your buyers are likely to be online. Stay-at-home parents, older folks and students will have more flexibility to bid compared to working professionals.
  • Busy weekends – Most people have more leisure time to shop during the weekend but if the weather is good, they are more likely to be doing other things.
  • Late night sales – Nighttime shopping is in the increase, with the busiest time of day on eBay stretching from 6.30pm to 10.30pm in each time zone.
  • Captive audience – In general, people are less busier during weekend evenings than at the weekend. The peak period for users online is between 7pm to 9pm.
  • Sunday competition – The end of the weekend has long been touted as the best day to finish auctions. Keep in mind though, if everyone does this it can be difficult for an auction to be seen in the crowd, especially if there is direct item competition.
  • Paydays – Depending on where you live, there may be a common time of the month people get paid e.g. at the end, every two weeks, or every 7th/14th/28th of the month.
  • Time of the year – Winter weather is more likely to keep people inside on the weekends compared to the summer months.

Research, research, research

As with so many other elements of eBay, taking the time to research the competition and test the market can really pay off in the long run. Determining the best time to reach a target market of customers takes time, so do not lose hope if the first few auctions do not seem successful. Trial and error is essential in this case.

Remember to keep an eye on other sellers’ items. If there are many people watching and bidding on a similar (or identical) item being sold, it may be worth starting an auction (with a ‘Buy It Now’ option) soon after it finishes to take advantage of disappointed buyers.

Last tips for choosing a time

Starting and ending auctions on the hour (12pm, 1pm etc) is an easy mistake to make. Try to choose random times, to avoid the clump of auctions ending directly on the hour.

When choosing the duration of an auction, consider the visibility a long listing offers. 10 day auctions starting on Fridays and ending on Mondays cover two weekends of shopping. The general rule is the longer an item is listed for, the more bids.

The final word

While considering your target audience and all of the other factors above to decide the end time of your auction, keep these last two pieces of advice in mind.

  • At the end of the day, the buyer will purchase the item if it is what they want, no matter the time the auction ends.
  • With the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices that enable buyers to have access to auctions whenever and wherever, the end time matters less than it used to.

Do you have any experiences or tips from experimenting with start/end times? We’d love to hear about them – get in contact via the comment form below. 

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.