Social Distancing is Fueling Online Auctions

May 01, 2020
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Initial reports inside the auction industry may indicate a noticeable increase in bidder registrations and active participation.

Despite all of the recent activity and communication around the COVID 19 virus and regulations imposed that have slowed the economy, the online auction industry appears to not only be weathering the storm, but thriving in these changing times. Initial reports inside the auction industry may indicate a noticeable increase in bidder registrations and active participation with online auction bidding platforms.

Recently, online (internet) auction software providers have witnessed increased traffic to their bidding platforms over the past couple of months which follows the same timeline of the social distancing restrictions set in place due to the COVID 19 virus concerns. Coincidence? Or is this an indication that consumers are spending more time on the internet which creates higher exposure to internet auctions. Whatever the cause, auction companies are having a mixed response regarding the impact that social distancing has had on their auction business. Those reports appear to primarily hinge on what type of property is being auctioned.

Several auction companies that operate in the non-urban (rural) real estate sector recently disclosed they are seeing very strong success with rural and lifestyle real estate like farms, country homes and remote properties.  United Country Real Estate, the nation’s largest rural and lifestyle real estate and auction company recently reported dramatic increases during the first quarter (2020) in land sales with a 50 percent increase in auction units (number of auctions held), and over 40 percent increase for the amount of acres sold at auction when compared to the same time last year.

Other auction categories that have received a lot of attention and online participation are farm equipment, heavy equipment, guns & firearms, collectible coins and antiques. While these markets are experiencing increased interest from a buying audience that may currently be trapped at home with more than normal idle time on their hands, there are a few others that have reported their auction sales have decreased significantly.

For example, a recent article by ArtNet News on April 30th reports that high-end art markets have declined by as much as 76 percent, however they went on to say that demand remained steady for lower priced items in the art category. As the U.S. continues to navigate the Coronavirus disruption, many auction companies anticipate the need for non-contact or minimal contact transactions will grow. Online auctions can fill this need by applying the competitive bidding process to expose property (real and personal) to the marketplace in a timed auction event, followed by electronic payment methods and scheduled pickup and delivery.