eBay Trading Cards

The online marketplace eBay released its first-ever report on the state of trading cards and other collectibles on its platform which shows strong demand and sales. The company reported that on its platform sellers sold over 4 million more sports, collectible card games and non-sport trading cards in 2020 than in the previous year.

eBay claims to be one of the world’s top destinations for buying and selling trading cards among passionate collectors, flippers and investors looking for everything from the ultra-rare to everyday cards. The latest trends the company released show that not only are sports cards a top pick but collectible card games like Pokémon also saw sales increase by more than 500% last year.

“Last year saw an industry-wide surge in collecting and flipping trading cards due in large part to people staying home and finding new ways to spend their time, turning to cards while there was a lack of sports on TV. In addition, new collectors are entering the trading cards space as another avenue of investment to diversify their portfolios. We anticipate that this trajectory will keep pace in 2021, and to meet this demand, we’re continuing to build on new ways to enhance the eBay experience for buyers and sellers, especially in the collectibles space.”

Nicole Colombo, general manager of Collectibles & Trading Cards at ‎eBay

eBay Infographic Highlighting State of Trading Cards

eBay infographic on trading cards

2021 Industry Predictions

eBay asked Darren Rovell, business analyst, senior executive producer at The Action Network and an avid collector of trading cards himself about the next evolution of the trading card industry. Here are his thoughts and predictions about how interest across all collectibles will continue to grow in 2021, ranging from nontraditional trading cards, sports memorabilia and video games to vintage basketball cards and more.

Nontraditional Cards Will Continue to Rule

Cards that are a bit more off the beaten path, but make sense in terms of past popularity and low population, will continue to rule. There will be a focus on mainstream cards — like the 1986 Michael Jordan Fleer — but Entenmann’s Jordan and Interlake Jordan cards, as well as cards like the Bumblebee Tuna “The Rock” card, will continue to shine. And don’t forget the rise of collectible card games like Pokémon, which will see continued growth, especially with the franchise’s 25th anniversary later this month.

Invest in Vintage Basketball Cards

Basketball cards grew by 373% in 2020 with new stars like Luka Dončić and Zion Williamson reaching remarkable numbers, but those who took profits in ultra-modern basketball cards will seek to put their money into older, more iconic stars. As population reports are released and card grader backlogs clear, vintage ‘80s and ‘90s basketball cards will be a more obvious, rational investment.

Collecting Kobe

In the past few weeks, multiple cards have sold on eBay for over $500,000, including a 1996 Topps Chrome Refractor Kobe Bryant Rookie PSA 10 card. Investment in Kobe Bryant will level up to that of Michael Jordan and LeBron James with his upcoming Hall of Fame induction in May. Celebrations of his birthday (Aug. 23) and Mamba Day (Aug. 24) provide annual reminders of how much he is beloved.

Sports Memorabilia Spotlight

Sports memorabilia, which took a back seat in 2020 to cards, will flourish again as unique one-of-a-kind game-used pieces will see higher prices.

Game Tickets Will Break Records

As physical tickets disappear from virtually every event post-pandemic, a new appreciation for tickets as collectibles will emerge. Tickets to the biggest, most famous games are anticipated to break the six-figure barrier for the first time.

Purchasing Lower Grades

Buyers will trade down on greatest cards just to be able to have them. As cards graded 8-10 become unattainable for many, expect cards graded 1-3 to have a higher growth percentage as it’s the only way to obtain the “art” despite the condition. Early 2021 has already proven this to be true. Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer PSA 1 Rookies, which saw prices up to $1,600 in November, are currently selling in the $4,000 range.

eBay also launched its new shipping service for trading cards that allows sellers to mail cards for $1. The service is rolling out in stages to users right now and should become available to all sellers shortly.

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