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Published: Jan 4, 2024
Data-Drive Review of the Sports Card Market (2024)

As we turn the page on 2023, the buzz about the state of the hobby has been all over social media. Many sports card collectors seem optimistic in their opinions, but here at Chasing Majors, we’re diving into data to drive our opinions, and not just relying on how we felt about our last trade or a recent sell. Of course, I’ll sprinkle in my thoughts, but I hope you’ll appreciate the data-drive approach.

Recent Prices and Sales Volume: The Market’s Heartbeat

When it comes to reflecting on the sports card marketplace, recent prices and sales volume are the two key metrics. Brick-and-mortar dealers, online distributors, and the card giants like Topps, Panini, Upper Deck, and Leaf might focus on trading car box, and case sales metrics. But, collectors focus on singles sales and their price movements.

The Largest Online Marketplace & Auction Site

Today, let’s review sports card sales on eBay to help us determine the state of the hobby. Every time I check the sports card transactions on eBay, I’m blown away by the hobby’s popularity. Let’s look into the numbers — brace yourself — nearly 38 million sports card singles sold on eBay in 2023. Can you believe it?

Recently, I heard a hobby insider speculate that there are 1 million active trading card collectors in 2023. Now, how anyone arrives at that precise number is a mystery to me, but for the sake of the discussion, let’s roll with it. If accurate, that would mean every trading card collector out there bought a whopping 37 sports cards on eBay alone in 2023.

Now 37 individual sports cards purchased may not sound staggering to you, but that not accounting for singles purchased at shows, card shops, on other online platforms like COMC or WhatNot. It also doesn’t account for cards acquired through opening packs.

Charts and Data

Below, you’ll find a collection of charts and key data points that unveil the performance of eBay sales in 2023. Whether you’re a data geek or just curious about the pulse of the hobby, these visuals will paint a picture.

2023 eBay Sports Card Sales Volume

Quick Summary

2023 Monthly Sold Item Average : 3,148,435 (all sports)

2023 Total Sold Item Volume per Month: 37,781,220 (all sports)

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2023 eBay Sports Card Total Item Sales

Quick Summary

2023 Monthly Total Item Sales Average : $100,838,812.89 (all sports)

2023 Sports Card Total Sold Price : $1,210,065,754.69 (all sports)

2023 eBay Sports Card Average Sold Item Price

(Total Sales / Volume Sold)

Quick Summary

Thoughts about Individual Card Markets.

Baseball Cards

Baseball cards remain the King when it comes to the number of total transactions, holding nearly 50% of the market share. Keep in mind, the sheer volume of baseball cards produced over the past 120 years contributes to this dominance.

Here’s the kicker, despite the high volume of transactions, baseball cards sit in 5th place for average sold item price. As an active baseball card collector myself, this means our dollars can stretch further buying baseball over other sports. Lower prices, higher selection, it’s a win-win!

The year-over-year trends for baseball cards indicate lower lows post-Covid peaks. Collectors like us celebrate the opportunity to snag cards grail card at lower prices, while investors (bag holders) might feel the pinch. In 2023, eBay sales for the baseball card market hit a whopping $466 million, proving that the market is very much active. Avoid listening to the nay-sayers telling you the hobby is dead.

Now, a reality check — Q4 numbers for 2023 compared to 2022 reveal an 8% decrease in total sales. It’s not a shocker for those in the hobby, but it’s essential to keep an eye on the markets ebb and flow. As we move into 2024 I still expect Q1 2024 numbers show strength and align with year-over-year trends thanks to new product release and the excitement of spring training.

Football Cards

Football cards stand strong in second place for both sales and volume metrics. Despite the noise from social media about football being in trouble, Q4 comparisons from 2022 & 2023 show only a 2% decrease in total sales year-over-year. It seems like the common sentiments of “nobody wants to buy young quarterbacks” isn’t impacting the greater football card market. I guess the football card hobby is bigger than just modern day QBs!

Basketball Cards

No surprise, but basketball cards take third place in 2023 sales and volume, but they rule the roost when it comes to average sold item price. Despite a slight dip from 2022, basketball cards maintain a considerable high average price per item.

However, there’s a twist. Every year-over-year metric, including the 2022–2023 Q4 data represented above, shows considerable weakness, with a 14% dip from a quarterly review one year to another. Jordan cards are still holding up the super high-end of the market, but the NBA better hope that Wemby-mania continues or the next “he’s him” star emerges, or more pain is likely in this space. It’s a rollercoaster, my friends and basketball cards continue to feel pain.

Soccer Cards

In 2023, soccer cards emerged as both the winner and loser as a top 5 player in the sports card marketplace. On the bright side, the average sales price per eBay transaction remains high at $35.40. But, there’s a huge concern, post-World Cup, soccer card sales volume is down more than 40%, and eBay sold item prices have taken a 48% hit over the past 12-months.

One very interesting trend to watch in 2024, is the top-end of the market. We saw continued strength and in some respects growth in high-end sales which really needs to continue. I believe 2024 will continue producing a mixed bag of highs and lows, and the future seems uncertain trending towards bleak in the soccer market.

Ice Hockey Cards

In some respects the hockey card market showed weakness, as it lost its 4th place market position related to sales, but the loyal, long-term collector base keeps the hockey card market moving forward. Add in a rising star, Conner Bedard, as his rookie cards take over the interest of collectors and the hockey card market looks like it will show signs of strength in 2024.

While not making attention grabbing headlines like other sports card markets, the steady and reliable nature of hockey collectors is commendable. It’s like being part of an exclusive club that knows the true value of the game.

We hope you enjoyed this article. If so, check out Are Sports Cards a Good Investment in 2024