I've noticed a trend on ebay recently. Average stuff is just not selling. High end stuff goes for stupid prices. In trying to make some room in my house I have been putting some really decent stuff on ebay. I often do not even get a minimum bid. This has made me start selling the items at fixed price in the collector's world.
At this tells me is that the field is not growing. Probably due to lack of money. If people are not buying, they are not collecting, and if not collecting they may fall out of that habit and into another that is cheaper.
Yes, blame the economy. Only a wealthy society can afford to collect. We know the Romans (well, the rich ones) collected coins. However collecting pretty much stopped for a while, until the very rich started it up again. Small wonder that the USA pretty much led the world in collecting stuff.
So what I wonder is: if someone is not collecting now due to money problems, will they start collecting when money returns? Or will they have developed a "depression" outlook and stock away that money for a rainy day (as those who lived through the depression did).
Actually, in some respects ebay is a little bit more like it was in the early days when you could find real bargains. I've seen some very good buys tucked in around the items from E/5906th. Of course, now that everything costs $10 to ship, those inexpensive items need to be worth a lot more to make it worthwhile.