eBay shoppers not in holiday spirit this year

This Christmas, it seems that shoppers just can't get into the competitive holiday spirit, the one that has lifted many a seller's year-end income and seems linked to "patriotism" and "the American dream," on eBay. In fact, according to Comscore, the online seller is reporting an unprecedented decrease in traffic; down 16% between Nov. 3 and Dec. 14 compared to the same period in 2007. One seller interviewed for this Wall Street Journal story noted a 30-40% decrease in his sales this season.

All fingers are pointing at changes made by new CEO John Donahoe -- changes which were made to turn eBay into a site more like WalMart.com or Amazon.com. I know! Donahoe decreased fixed-price listing fees and increased final-value fees, reducing profit for sellers who prefer the auction format. What's more, a change in search algorithm to include fixed-price listings has been confusing for me, and I consider myself something of an eBay wonk.

It's ended up hurting both buyers and sellers and -- it looks likely -- eBay itself. After so many years of explosive growth and opportunity, could eBay be on the decline? If so, what will replace it for consumers and sellers?