5 Top Trends Disrupting Sports Card Collecting in 2022

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Here’s what to expect in 2022.

Here’s what to expect in 2022.

2022 is going to be an unprecedented year for sports card collectors. 

In two record breaking years, the hobby has drawn in a new generation of enthusiasts, flippers and investors, and sprouted many interesting businesses. Funding has been injected into the market through M&As of industry power houses, and venture capital investments in tech startups. 

This will lead to an influx of new card sets, the emergence of many unaccounted for vintage cards, and the further decentralization of card sales across digital platforms. To avoid missing out on great sports cards, collectors seek out advanced tools.

Here’s what to expect in 2022.

Big Money Consolidates Sports Cards Collecting

Fanatics e-commerce recently acquired the Topss card division. It now has licenses to produce sports cards for Major League Baseball (starting 2025), the NFL, the NBA, and as of 2022, Major League Basketball as well. 

On the other end of the market, Goldin Auctions is now owned by Collectors Universe, the parent company of PSA grading. This influx of cash allowed Golding to expand operations and meet the immense demand for authenticated, curated sports cards. Expect to see much more from Goldin in 2022. 

2022 Releases will Compete for Collector Attention

The first Japanese baseball cards were released in 2021 by Topps, and 2022 is likely to see growth in this market. On Feb 16th Topps plan to release their 2022 Series 1 Baseball collection, and on June 15th they will be releasing the 2022 Topps Museum Collection hobby boxes, which include hand drawn reproductions, autographed cards, 1/1s and more.

Panini will also increase production as they battle for market share with Fanatics. In March 2022 Panini will debut their Clearly Donruss NFL box sets which will include treats like Rated Rookie Autographed and Tribute cards. They will also release their 2021-22 Contenders Basketball boxes with 120 cards in March.

Look out for soccer. It was one of the greatest growing card segments in 2021, and the 2022 World Cup will drive even more growth for soccer cards. 

Supply Chain Disruptions

Continued supply chain issues have delayed new card releases as Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the design, manufacturing and transport of sports cards. If novel virus variants continue to mutate, disruptions will continue and even expand to the shipping of vintage cards purchased online. The Fanatics and Collectors Universe takeovers may mitigate this by integrating and streamlining supply chains, but it's too early to predict. 

And if 2021 was any indication, the market boom will continue to cause backlogs at all major grading companies, like PSA, SGC, Beckett and CSG, delaying slabbing.

Uncovered Vintage Cards Influence Population Counts

As media coverage of the sports card boom continues, people have been unpacking dusty boxes and unearthing valuable card stashes. 2022 will see more rare cards surfacing, further fueling the frenzy, and influencing population numbers. How these cards will impact prices is hard to predict, but as more opportunities to nab vintage cards arise, collectors should be on the lookout.

New Technologies Making Life Easier (And Harder) For Collectors

Shopping bots automate online checkout of a variety of retail items. As the sport card market heats up, collectors are turning to bots like these for help. However, most sites like Panini or Target, have strong anti-bot protection rendering many bots a waste of time.

The fractional trading market is another offshoot of the card boom, and giants like Amazon are investing in fractional ownership startups. This arena is more focused on monetary returns than the love for the hobby, and serves as yet another mechanism to draw cash into the marketplace, raising competition for top cards. 

eBay too, although not new to the collectable scene, is becoming a major platform for trading cards. Card sales on eBay grew 142% in 2020, relative to 2019. In 2021, two cards sold for over $500k on eBay, and the online platform was reportedly selling 139 cards every minute in the first quarter, with basketball and baseball (and Pokemon) seeing the most action. eBay recently released a new population tracking and pricing tool that many hope will democratize industry knowledge. 

Sports NFTs, like NBA Top Shot, will also become increasingly popular as more leagues and associations create their own NFTs. We believe NFTs will only bite into a small portion of the sports cards market share, and the enthusiasm that cards lovers have for physical cards will not wane.

As new technologies are developed, finding the right cards in time is becoming harder. Eventually, only the strongest tools that encompass thousands of marketplaces and auction houses will prevail.

Pricing Trends in 2022 Are a Toss Up

With the return of sporting events, and the migration of opportunistic flippers to other markets, some expect to see a downturn in 2022 sports card demand and prices

If prices normalize back to 2019 figures, top performing cards are most likely to retain their value, while base cards will suffer. But, if prices continue to rise, the value of lower graded cards will increase as well, including modern cards of upcoming star players from 2021.

For collectors to keep tabs on all the new releases, rare uncovering and huge auctions, using a personalized AI card scouting service, like AnyLot, is a no brainer.