With “Cyber Monday” just behind us (see the post below this one), we know that more and more Americans are buying stuff online. Less attention is paid to the fact that more and more Americans are selling stuff online. In a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life project, 17 percent of online adults reported having sold something over the Internet. “Tangible items like pink plastic Christmas trees, collectible coins, wedding dresses, automobiles, books, or CDs share web space with a myriad of intangibles including virtual weaponry and characters from online games (sold for real money) and services including everything from finding a French tutor, a personal trainer or someone to clean your aquarium.” As you’d guess, wired Gen Xers are more likely to have sold something online (26 percent have) than are Internet users over age 40 (13 percent). As this online version of the garage sale grows in scope, one wonders whether it will start to absorb a significant part of the acquisitive energies that consumers now devote to purchasing stuff from real retailers. Having bought the pink plastic Christmas tree of your dreams (from some guy in Altoona who’d been dreaming of getting rid of it), maybe you’ll sit around admiring it instead of going out to the mall.
—Posted by Mark Dolliver