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How to Set Your eBay Auction Time

How long do you want to run your auction? eBay gives you a choice — 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 days. Just click the number you want in the box. If you choose a 10-day auction, you add $0.40 to your listing fee.

Your auction-length strategy might depend on the time of year and the item you're selling. If you have an item that you think will sell pretty well, run a 7-day auction (be sure that it will cover a full weekend) so bidders have time to check it out before they decide to bid.

However, if you know that you have a red-hot item that's going to fly off the shelves — such as a rare toy or a hard-to-get video game — choose a 3-day auction. Eager bidders tend to bid higher and more often to beat out their competition if the item is hot and going fast. Three days is long enough to give trendy items exposure and ring up bids.

No matter how many days you choose to run your auction, it ends at exactly the same time of day as it starts. A 7-day auction that starts on Thursday at 9:03:02 a.m. ends the following Thursday at 9:03:02 a.m.

The gang at eBay is a pretty laid-back group, but they do run on military time. That means they use a 24-hour clock set to Pacific time. So 3:30 in the afternoon is 15:30, and one minute after midnight is 00:01.

With auctions running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you should know when the most bidders are around to take a gander at your wares. Here are some times to think about:

  • Saturday/Sunday: Always run an auction over a weekend. People log on and off eBay all day.

    Don't start or end your auction on a Saturday or Sunday — unless your completed auction research indicates that you should. Certain types of bidders love sitting at their computers waiting for auctions to end on the weekends, but many bidders are busy having lives, and their schedules are unpredictable.

    Although a few eager bidders may log on and place a maximum bid on your auction, you can bet that they won't be sitting at a computer making a last-minute flurry of competitive bids if they have something better to do on a Saturday or Sunday.

  • Holiday weekends: If a holiday weekend is coming up around the time you're setting up your auction, run your auction through the weekend and end it a day after the “holiday” Monday. This gives prospective bidders a chance to catch up with the items they perused over the weekend and to plan their bidding strategies.

    Don't end an auction on the last day of a three-day holiday; try the day after. People in the mood to shop are generally at department stores collecting bargains. If eBay members aren't shopping, they're out enjoying an extra day off.

  • Time of day: The best times of day to start and end your auction are during eBay's peak hours of operation, which are 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific time, right after work on the West Coast. Perform your completed auction research, however, to be sure that this strategy applies to your item.

    Your timing depends on the item you're listing and whether 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific time is the middle of the night where you live.

Unless you're an insomniac or a vampire and want to sell to werewolves, don't let your auctions close in the middle of the night. Not enough bidders are around to cause any last-minute bidding that would bump up the price.

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