Etsy sellers go on strike after company raises transaction fees by 30%

The Etsy Inc. logo is displayed for a photograph on a smartphone next to sewing supplies in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Etsy sellers are calling on customers and fellow independent retailers that rely on the online marketplace for income to boycott the company following the news of unwelcome transaction fees. 

The Verge reported in March that Etsy sellers would be negatively impacted by a 30% increase in transaction fees beginning April 11. Transaction fees are a percentage Etsy takes from sellers when a sale is made on their online stores. Sellers will have to shell out 6.5% per order from the original 5% of their profits.

Sellers struggling with the financial impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic find the fee increase unacceptable, especially since the company’s CEO, Josh Silverman recently reported to investors that sales and revenue had soared to record highs, The Verge reported. 

As of April 11, more than 53,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Etsy to remove the fees among other actions to help support sellers. 

"As individual crafters, makers and small business people, we may be easy for a giant corporation like Etsy to take advantage of. But as an organized front of people, determined to use our diverse skills and boundless creativity to win ourselves a fairer deal, Etsy won’t have such an easy time shoving us around," the petition says.

Read the full petition here.

"They plan to increase our transaction fees by 30%," the petition added. "We’re going on strike on April 11 to call on Etsy to hold itself accountable to sellers and buyers. Sellers will put their shops on vacation mode in protest. Buyers can show support by agreeing to boycott Etsy from April 11-18."

The petition also calls on Etsy buyers to boycott the company’s website from April 11-18. 

Kristi Cassidy, who sells gothic Victorian costumes and accessories on Etsy told The Verge that the website has become more and more volatile for independent sellers to make a living.

"The strike is just action number one," she said. "What we want to really do for the future is form a solidarity support movement — peer support, artisans supporting each other."

Etsy previously increased its seller fees from 3.5% to 5% in 2018 which had been met with backlash from sellers. Another controversial program rolled out by Etsy in 2020 was its Offsite Ads program which bills any seller making $10,000 in sales per year a 12% fee to promote advertising. 

The petition says the program "forces sellers to foot Etsy’s advertising costs."

"Offsite Ads pushes Etsy’s advertising costs onto their sellers, by charging us an additional 12-15% fee for each item sold through the Offsite Ads program. A 15% fee is charged to sellers who have never earned more than $10,000 in a year, and these sellers are allowed to opt out of the program. Other sellers pay 12%, and are never allowed to opt out," the petition writes. 

In a statement to Marketplace, Etsy claims the fees will help weed out resellers who crowd the market and make it harder for independent businesses who sell unique and custom items from being noticed. 

"We’re committed to supporting our community of 5.3 million sellers around the world by helping them grow their businesses. Sellers have consistently told us they want us to expand our efforts around marketing, customer support, and removing listings that don’t meet our policies," an Etsy spokesperson told MarketWatch. "Our revised fee structure will enable us to increase our investments in each of these key areas so that we can better serve our community and keep Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace."