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'RV' tops eBay search terms
Auction site trends show love of old-style vehicles, electronic gadgets and anything pink.
December 30, 2004: 1:34 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Despite the frenzy it caused over the holidays, the No. 1 search item on eBay in 2004 wasn't "iPod." In fact it was "RV," short for recreational vehicle, the online auction site confirmed Thursday.

For the second year in a row the Web behemoth sliced and diced its database of transactions to draw out trends that could help define 2004, and provided USA Today with the official results. RV was first, followed by "Louis Vuitton," "moon," "BMW" -- last year's No. 1 -- and "gold."

If you think of eBay as a mirror of our times, then the year 2004 was one in which consumers displayed their love for gas-guzzling cars, high-tech gizmos, everything "pink" and plenty of "weird" stuff.

Why use the eBay (Research) indicator? Because more than 125 million people use the Web site and $1,060 worth of products flow through it every second, a spokesman from eBay said.

As a societal seismometer, eBay showed that when major events happen such as Ronald Reagan's passing or the Red Sox winning the World Series in October, any kind of related paraphernalia immediately floods the Web site.

There's also a sense of consumer wariness, the spokesman said. With a sluggish job market over the past few years, top searches on eBay have shifted away from expensive brands to more generic alternatives such as Old Navy.

And with the population getting older, the emphasis is shifting to a need for comfort. Enter the RV, a motorhome on wheels that's ideal for leisurely retirement travel around the country and has been a top search item all year long.

In terms of specific eBay trends that defined 2004, users mostly sought electronics products. The hottest gadgets included satellite radios, flat-screen TVs and of course, the iPod.

Americans love their muscle cars. The site confirmed that the top three cars sold through eBay Motors in 2004 were Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and Chevrolet Camaro.

The nation has gone "pink," which was eighth among search terms. "Pink is the new black," eBay's style director Constance White told USA Today. "I think it's partly the war. Pink is very sweet, childish, optimistic color."

There's a new fascination with outer space, especially after SpaceShipOne took a civilian to the edge of space and landed safely back on earth. "Moon" was the number three search term.

But perhaps the most disconcerting conclusion drawn from eBay's statistics was that people appear to be getting weirder.

For example, in 2003, the oddest item sold on eBay was a tissue used by Paul McCartney. In 2004, there was a plethora of strange and often bizarre items on both the seller and the buyer side.

Among them, a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich marked by scorches that seem to look like the Virgin Mary, or someone who listed her father's cane along with her father's ghost.

Other listings included a piece of gum chewed by Britney Spears that fetched more than $500.  Top of page

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