Etsy Sellers Launch Week-Long Strike Over Increased Fees
Nearly 20,000 sellers on e-commerce platform Etsy have agreed to go on strike April 11-18, organizers said Monday, to protest a 30 percent transaction fee increase — from 5 percent to 6.5 percent — that Etsy claims will help bring in more shoppers.
Strike organizer Kristi Cassidy, who sells vintage-style dresses on Etsy, created a petition earlier this year on Coworker.org addressed to company CEO Josh Silverman that said the increase comes amid all-time high pandemic gains for the company. After the petition was created, Etsy sellers joined Cassidy and launched a campaign, urging other artisans and their customers to abandon the site for one week in protest. Then, in a letter sent to Etsy's Silverman on Monday, the strikers said: "Etsy has become a downright hostile place for authentic small businesses to operate. For both full-time and part-time sellers alike, the changes on Etsy have brought many of us to the brink of financial ruin."
Total Retail's Take: It's not surprising that the marketplace's sellers are taking on Etsy. This strike is part of a broader wave of workers pushing corporations for better conditions and pay. For example, workers at an Amazon.com facility in Staten Island as well as staff at some Starbucks locations have voted to unionize. Etsy is defending the new fee structure, arguing that it will ultimately help sellers. In an email statement to USA TODAY, an Etsy spokesperson said its sellers’ success is a “top priority” and the increased fee would create resources to allocate toward sellers' pain points.
“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,” the company's statement read.
Etsy, which now has a base of 5.3 million brands/sellers on its platform, last increased its seller fees in 2018 from 3.5 percent to 5 percent, resulting in similar negative sentiment from some sellers. Despite that backlash, the marketplace has enjoyed record sales during the pandemic, as consumers shopped more online and looked to support small businesses, which represent Etsy's seller base.
Related story: Etsy Sellers Plan Boycott Over Fee Hike