Miss Piggy is not amused by your swine flu reference.

As the world alternately freaks out or calls conspiracy (Boy, I really miss the middle ground) over the swine flu (or any illness, virus or epidemic for that matter), what does the threat, be it real or perceived, mean for online sellers?

The way I see it, there are two main ways to think of it.

With some people fearing crowds and being in public, logic would say that they are doing more online shopping. People cooped up in their houses with the internet is usually always a good thing for online sellers as there are more eyeballs on the internet looking for stuff, some of it stuff to buy. With a high profile scare like swine flu or similar, if you are selling face masks and hand sanitizers you are probably making a killing but I would not be surprised if sales were up all over the place with people staying home more in general because they don’t want to get sick.

But, on the flip side, might this be more likely to hurt casual, collectible or less professional sellers? After all, unlike a large sterile company like Amazon, I may be wary of ordering something online that might come from a seller that is sick lest their germs come with my purchase. Is fear of germs more likely to make some buyers stay away from certain marketplaces or even types of items? Are non-new items like collectibles and antiques going to take a hit because of this?

I don’t know the answer to this myself but I would be interested to see what your thoughts on the matter are. Thinking like a buyer or seller, how does something like cold and flu season or a worldwide health scare affect your buying habits?