It all began with Josh Silverman’s letter of 24 February. This 600-word message from Etsy’s CEO quickly became the hottest topic of discussion for all sellers on the platform. And even though the letter contains multiple talking points, the main focus of the debates was undoubtedly the rise in the Etsy fees.
As of 11 April 2022, the transaction fees for sellers increased from 5% to 6.5%. At first glance, this hike seems insignificant, but it stirred up huge discontent among some of the sellers. In response to the frustrating announcement, a group of sellers decided to express their protest by going on strike.
The Etsy strikers put forward a list of demands, the most important of which was to call off the transaction fee increase. You can find out more about the strikers’ demands on their website – https://etsystrike.org/. The strike was scheduled to take place between 11 April and 18 April. All Etsy sellers were called on to set their shops on vacation mode for that period. Those who could not afford to halt business activities for an entire week were urged to do it at least on Monday (11 April). At the same time, buyers were requested to refrain from making purchases on Etsy during that week.
This blog post will not comment on the fee increase, the demands of the strikers or the very idea behind the strike. We are only going to look at the data and objectively analyze what happened during the strike period.
Table of Contents
How many Etsy sellers were on strike?
The first question that we looked into was how many of the active Etsy shops took part in the organized strike. The Koalanda team decided to monitor all shops in this period in order to determine what percentage of them went into vacation mode during the strike.
The data show that 0.4% of the shops were set to vacation mode during the mentioned period. This amounts to a little over 21,000 Etsy shops, which is 50% more than the expected number, as per TechCrunch. About half of these shops remained closed throughout the entire week while the rest were inactive for only a few days.
Did Etsy sales drop on Monday, 11 April?
The overall data on the daily sales of Etsy shops show that there was no significant drop in sales on the first day of the strike — 11 April. We are looking at this day in isolation, because the less affluent shops were urged to join the strike at least on that day. This is why it may have been expected that the greatest drop in sales would be recorded precisely on 11 April. However, this was not the case.
Did Etsy sales drop during the week of 11 April – 18 April?
Looking at the data for the entire week of 11 April – 18 April, and comparing it with the data for the preceding days and weeks, it must be acknowledged that there definitely was a drop in the sales on Etsy. The overall plunge for the platform was around 12%. Of course, the impact was not uniform across the different categories and countries, but a decrease in sales was registered virtually everywhere. The graph below offers an overview of the daily sales since 1 March.
What are the possible reasons?
When we analyze a set of data, we must always consider the reasons behind any particular drop or increase in numbers. In the present case, we should not forget that the week of 11 April – 18 April was Holy Week for a great many buyers on Etsy. Our analysis of the sales during the Christmas holidays unequivocally showed a drastic drop on the actual days of the feast — Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This is, of course, perfectly natural, as during this period most people prefer to spend time with their families, rather than shop online. We cannot be sure whether the same phenomenon affected the sales around Easter, but it is certainly a factor to take into account when looking for the reasons behind the identified drop.
Another interesting question is whether the decrease in sales was mostly caused by the closed shops or by buyers respecting the strikers’ request to refrain from shopping during that week. To what extent did buyers understand and support the idea of the strike? Did they simply switch to making purchases from shops that remained open during the strike period? These are questions that cannot be answered with a sufficient degree of certainty.
Yet another question that is difficult to answer is to what extent the decrease in sales can be attributed to Etsy sellers who refrained from buying on the platform during the strike. Yes, you got that right, Etsy sellers. We should not forget that many sellers also make purchases, and they often do it via Etsy. In fact, many sellers get the supplies for their handmade products precisely on Etsy. But how this affected the overall number of sales during strike week, we cannot say.
Did the Etsy strike have any real impact?
The numbers never lie — there was a drop in the Etsy sales in the week of 11 April – 18 April. However, whether the drop was caused by the strike will remain a mystery for the time being. But even if we assume that the plunge in sales was the result of the strike and of buyers abstaining from shopping, can it be argued that the strike was successful?
The demands of the strikers were not met and will probably never be met. The Etsy transaction fee continues to be 6.5%, in line with the announcement of 24 February.
At the same time, the strike was thoroughly reported on by the media. There is hardly a person who did not realize that something was happening around Etsy last week. In fact, Etsy would probably struggle to buy such a pervasive media presence, even with the money from the increased transaction fees. But that should not upset the supporters of the strike — after all, if Etsy is growing and attracting new clients, this also means new clients for the sellers on the platform. In the end, we should not forget that Etsy and the sellers are not on opposite sides of the barricade, irrespective of the exact fee percentage.