Slow Sales on Etsy?


Reading time: 5 minutes

So many folks are reporting slow sales on Etsy these days! And on other platforms too, like Amazon Handmade. Periods when sales are down certainly can be discouraging. Feeling ready to give up?

Don’t! Take it from our veteran Etsy sellers here at eRank: in retail, ups and downs are as certain as sun and rain.

There are predictable times when sales go down. For instance, every single year in the first quarter. (Like we’re in now.)

This line graph shows Etsy revenue for the past four years. We drew some red arrows to draw your attention to these annual dips.

(Figures from https://investors.etsy.com/financials/quarterly-results)

This chart begins with the first quarter (Q1) Jan 1 – Mar 31 of 2017. It runs through 2020’s fourth quarter, Oct 1 – Dec 31.

You can see three things at a glance.

1) The holiday-spending peak of the year is always followed by a dip in the next quarter.

2) Every year, Etsy revenue has climbed Year-on-Year (YoY).

3) Last year, holy cow, how Etsy’s revenue soared! And that it began in the second quarter, April 1 through June 30. (Which normally is also a pretty slow period on Etsy.)

And those of us who were selling then remember what drove that on Etsy. Handmade face masks.

Shopping in a pandemic

Here at eRank, we can look back at our own April 2020 Etsy Trend Report analysis. Etsy’s top keyword last April was face mask, for which there were 2,905,548 shopper searches. Nearly 3 million. In one month. If you caught that train, you had quite a ride.

And really, any of us selling on Etsy any time from April 2020 on? We got a boost in our own velocity from following in that slipstream. Because many of those mask shoppers were new to Etsy. And some of them? They looked around, liked what they saw, and began shopping Etsy for their other wants and needs.

Beginning in April 2020, many people around the globe were working from home, and staying home. Many of their usual brick and mortar retail outlets were limited, or even shut. And with so many forms of entertainment curtailed too, more and more people turned to shopping online for a bit of that soothing retail-therapy escape.

Some platforms promoted the idea of shopping online from local businesses. This also brought us new customers. And with the cancellation of craft shows, people who used to buy from us in person found us in our online shops. Some of them even referred their friends.

Pandemic shopping on Etsy was phenomenally good

Lots of people needed things for working from home, and for looking good in Zoom meetings. So many families were doing distance learning for the first time and needed things for those activities.

Some people were bored and just stumbled on Etsy while web surfing. Other people used the pandemic downtime to get busy and redecorate. Or they picked up a new crafting hobby or musical instrument. They bought books because their libraries were closed. A whole movement formed around self-care and self-gifting. And around reaching out to distant friends and loved ones and sending them self-care gifts direct from Etsy shops.

All of this created a wave that lifted all boats. And it all culminated in 2020’s fourth quarter (Q4).

(Figures from https://investors.etsy.com/financials/quarterly-results)

“GMS” is Gross Merchandise Sales. Those figures are in billions, with a total for 2020 of$10.3B, up 106% YoY.

Revenue: $1.7B for the year, up 111%.

All in all, Etsy had a fantastic year in 2020. Per Etsy’s 4Q 2020 earnings presentation (link below), “Etsy outpaced e-commerce growth by more than 2.5X.”

What goes up must come down

A lot like physics: troughs always follow peaks. First quarters on Etsy are always the lowest, slowest time of the year.

It just seems worse this year. Compared with last year’s vastly-abnormal activity, nearly all of us selling anywhere online are seeing a drop. It’s gravity. This drop has come as a shock especially to newer Etsy sellers. The ones who came on board during the pandemic, and only knew the boom times. Those of us who are experienced online sellers have been through such drops before.

For some of us, the drop is drastic. What makes it seem especially drastic though is how high those former peaks were. Especially the second and third quarters on Etsy in 2020. In normal years, the second and third quarters (Apr 1-Sep 30) are slow too. Not as slow as the first quarter, but always slower than the final one.

What two Etsy Coaches advise you do when sales are down

Etsy Coach Starla Moore has a helpful article about what to do in slow times. We’ll link to her PDF at the end of this article, too. Mostly, it talks about the annual summer doldrums on Etsy. However, you can apply the suggestions she offers to any time of the year. Because if there’s one thing Etsy veterans know, it’s that someone somewhere is always having slow sales.

This is not to minimize the pain this slowdown is causing many of us. We only want to reassure you that the outlook on Etsy has actually never been brighter. True: Etsy coach Pam Duthie still cautions: “Don’t quit your day job!” But she and all of us Etsy sellers here at eRank also advise: “Don’t quit.”

Don’t give up. Especially if you’re new to Etsy and the 2020 boom times have been all that you know. Use the slow times to get ready for when it gets busy again, and hopefully, you’ll ride Etsy’s success to reach your dreams.

Want to talk about it? Join our eRank community on Facebook. Have questions? We have weekly live Q&As in the group, too.

RESOURCES

Etsy’s Fourth Quarter 2020 earnings presentation

Etsy Coach Starla Moore’s Summer Survival Guide