On Monday, in protest over a 30% seller transaction fee hike, a host of Etsy sellers turned their accounts to vacation mode, taking to social media to blast the company and urge customers to avoid the marketplace this week.
Etsy declined to say how many are participating, but thousands have signed onto a petition site. According to a website dedicated to the strike and via social media, sellers are demanding an end to the increase as well as other reforms. Through their site, the Etsy strike organizers are providing tools like customizable shop banners, sample "vacation mode" notices and a message to customers that can be affixed to outgoing packages.
They're apparently not buying into the company's rationale for the increase. In February, when Etsy announced it would boost its seller transaction fee from from 5% to 6.5%, Chief Financial Officer Rachel Glaser told analysts that it would allow the company to "invest in more ways that benefit our sellers." On Monday, as the increase went into effect, the marketplace reiterated that.
"Our sellers' success is a top priority for Etsy," a company spokesperson said by email. "We are always receptive to seller feedback and, in fact, the new fee structure will enable us to increase our investments in areas outlined in the petition, including marketing, customer support, and removing listings that don't meet our policies. We are committed to providing great value for our 5.3 million sellers so they are able to grow their businesses while keeping Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace."
The spokesperson declined to say whether being "receptive to seller feedback" included any reconsideration of the fee change or attention to sellers' other demands.
In a blog post written in February alerting sellers to the increase, CEO Josh Silverman said the proceeds would go toward marketing that would bring them more customers, grow its support team by more than 20% and "build on last year's roughly $40 million investment in the teams and technology that help make our marketplace a safe and secure destination for handmade, vintage, and special items."
However, for many sellers the fee increase is the last straw at a marketplace that touts itself as artisanal and unique, but which, they say, caters to resellers and other mass merchants. They also say Etsy lacks transparency and makes communication difficult. According to their petitions and tweets posted to #EtsyStrike, they're demanding a tighter grip on resellers and other mass merchants, an end to Star Seller accounts, and greater transparency around other seller programs.
"Etsy made bank over the pandemic," Kristi Cassidy, one of the protest organizers, said on the petition site, noting major increases in gross marketplace sales in the last couple of years. "They followed up these record pandemic gains by turning around and sticking it to their sellers."
Earlier this month, Guggenheim analysts led by Seth Sigman flagged "potential volatility with the seller fee rate increase," noting that "some sellers are planning to temporarily pause their shops, though we expect little impact."
The protest follows a wave of labor organizing at various retailers, including REI, Starbucks and Amazon, that similarly reflects dissatisfaction with retailer priorities. Earlier this month, Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island successfully unionized, which some labor experts say could bolster organizers' confidence at other locations.