Thousands of businesses selling fashion and other products through Etsy have embarked on a strike, temporarily halting use of the online marketplace in protest at a rise in fees.
Etsy, which hosts more than 5.3 million businesses, mostly selling apparel, art and crafts, raised the fee it charges sellers from 5% to 6.5% – a 30% increase – on Monday.
So far, more than 22,500 businesses are reported to have joined the strike, including many in the UK – some for just one day, others from 11 to 18 April.
Others have stayed open but added messages to their stores to protest the rise in fees. The action is supported by a dedicated website, etsystrike.org, and a social media hashtag, #etsystrike.
In a letter to Etsy chief executive Josh Silverman, strike organiser Kristi Cassidy from Rhode Island in the US called the move “nothing short of pandemic profiteering”.
Caroline Bletsis, an artist based in Fleet in Hampshire who sells her art through Etsy, has closed her Etsy shop for the week, describing the increase as “corporate greed” and adding: “Transaction fees have increased, cutting artists’ profits.”
In support of the strike, Staffordshire-based bracelet maker Dorothy and Belle shared its profit summary for the last month on social media. On sales of £83, Etsy took £15.81. Its owner Lou added: “19% of my sales went back to Etsy last month in fees. This doesn’t include the marketing service I paid for.”
The strikers are calling for the fee increase to be cancelled and also to be able to opt out of offsite ads. Sellers with an Etsy turnover of more than £7,692 ($10,000) a year are also charged an extra 12% fee for offsite marketing.
Noemie Kenyon, who sells decorated furnishings and fabrics through her London-based business French Laundry on Etsy, told The Guardian: “I’m unhappy about the forced marketing – or what they call ‘offsite ads’. I find that quite outrageous as the seller doesn’t have a say on what will be advertised.”
A spokesperson for Etsy told Marketwatch: “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.
“Our revised fee structure will enable us to increase our investments in each of these key areas so we can better serve our community and keep Etsy a beloved, trusted and thriving marketplace.”
But not all Etsy sellers are objecting. Stampywampydoodah, a family-run business in the Lake District specialising in personalised hand-stamped gifts, tweeted it would not be taking part in the strike. “We love Etsy and they bring us many sales and great customers. We are open.”