Small businesses have taken a hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially compared to large retailers; such as Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Etsy might be a huge online retailer, but it is made up of 2.7 million small sellers, many of whom hand make the millions of items on the website.
Etsy has seen a flicker of hope as it reported first-quarter sales of $228 million and an increase of 35% over this period last year. The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11 and Etsy’s first quarter ended on March 31, so the jump in sales only included the first few weeks of the pandemic. Usually, consumers would search through the platform for the perfect personalized gift or home decor item, but the demand has shifted to essential items for quarantine living and at home entertainment. These items include face coverings, cleaning supplies, food storage containers, washable paper towels, lawn dice, playing cards, and embroidery kits.
Masks are one of the most sought after items right now. Etsy offers a variety of face coverings, including masks, bandanas, and scarves, and even providing a video on how to choose the right face covering. When realizing that so many consumers were looking for masks, Etsy reached out to its sellers and suggested that they start sewing masks. The online retailer reported that roughly 60,000 sellers are now offering homemade masks.
Etsy CEO Josh Silverman shared that masks have not been a popular item in the past, “Previously, when someone would search for masks, they would be thinking about Halloween masks or maybe cream for their face,” he said.
Along with masks, they have seen a significant increase in craft supplies, self-care, toys and games, and gifting. It is difficult to determine whether this growth is a result of the in-store shortages of these items or consumers’ preferring to order online. Additionally, in the month of April, Etsy acquired approximately 4 million new buyers and reengaged 2.5 million buyers that had not bought from Etsy in over a year. The large retailer store shortages have created an opportunity for Etsy and its small sellers to fill the gaps.
We look forward to seeing how Etsy continues to create opportunities for small sellers and bring creativity and ingenuity to the table as the public searches for new mask designs, DIY crafts to distract young children, and essential cleaning supplies. We predict that as the pandemic continues to run its course, people will be craving variety and customization for the face coverings they have now had to incorporate into their everyday lives. Etsy’s rapidly expanding database of sellers possessing the skills to create original and personalized masks will certainly fill this timely need.
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