It’s starting to seem like Etsy only sells two kinds of products: masks, and everything else.
The product marketplace just released its Q2 earnings report, and the company says it helped sell $346 million worth of masks during the pandemic, accounting for 14 percent of all sales across small sellers on the platform. 4 million people came to Etsy for masks alone, buying nothing else, and 112,000 different sellers made money by selling those masks on the platform.
If “masks” were listed as their own product category in Etsy’s financial results, they’d rank third on the entire site: they’re not quite as big as the $740 million worth of home goods or the $362 million worth of jewelry that Etsy helped sell in Q2, but they would be ahead of “craft supplies.” Mask sales are so much bigger than the $87 million in “beauty & personal care” that they threw off Etsy’s charts:
More masks were sold this past quarter than all of the “paper and party supplies” that Etsy helped sell over the past twelve months.
But though Etsy is reveling in these sales for the moment — just as it did in April when it saw a huge surge thanks to masks — it’s starting to warn that masks sales probably aren’t sustainable: CEO Josh Silverman called them “pretty volatile” and “hard to predict” on the earnings call, noting that they tend to spike after things like CDC, state, and local county recommendations.
It seems like shelter-in-place orders have fired up sales at Etsy in general though, just like other online businesses are seeing from people stuck at home. Etsy says it saw 18.7 million new and “reactivated” buyers arrive during Q2, and it’s hoping it can figure out how to target them so they’ll stick around.
Please note that not all masks on Etsy are equal: Etsy had to warn its sellers in April not to make claims that they can actually prevent COVID-19, and even afterwards it’s clear that many of the items on sale provide very poor protection. Some are simply designed for fashion.
Masks aren’t the only personal protective equipment (PPE) that makers are crafting, of course: 3D printers are also producing face shields and valves among other creations, and I’m proud to say my own Ender 3 is still pumping out a handful of NIH-approved 3DVerkstan frames almost every day.
Update, 1:05 AM ET: Removed references to “homemade” masks which might have suggested that they were the ones driving sales; Etsy does list many homemade masks, but as a reader points out, many of the masks on Etsy are not necessarily homemade.