Etsy has revealed that the coronavirus pandemic led to a massive increase in sales of face masks on its site in April, resulting in twice the amount of revenue compared to a typical month.
Numerous merchants on the online marketplace pivoted to include handmade cloth masks in their collections as national and international demand for face coverings increased throughout last month. In the U.S., demand spiked in early April when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started recommending the use of face coverings.
And with people starting to once again venture outdoors as countries gradually ease their lockdown rules, demand is expected to keep on rising.
Etsy saw sales of more than 12 million face masks on its platform during April, contributing to sales revenue of around $133 million.
Over the weekend of April 4-6 alone, online shoppers searched for face masks on Etsy an average of nine times per second, culminating in two million searches.
The clamor for masks led to a five-fold increase in the number of sellers including masks in their listings, taking the total to around 20,000 sellers.
It should be noted, however, that cloth masks offer little protection against contracting the virus, with the more robust N95 masks offering more effective protection. But the general consensus among scientists suggests cloth masks do help to prevent infected people from spreading the virus, which makes them highly useful as it’s possible to be contagious without displaying symptoms. With that in mind, a growing number of governments have been asking their citizens to don some form of face covering when entering enclosed spaces such as stores, trains, and buses — basically any crowded place where social distancing is difficult to achieve.
For all face mask listings, the online marketplace automatically adds a cautionary note that reads: “Items sold on Etsy, such as masks and hand sanitizers, aren’t medical-grade. Etsy sellers cannot make medical or health claims.”
Commenting on the company’s own response to the growing clamor for coverings, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said: “Our team mobilized quickly to address the surge in face mask demand, which included creation of on-site banners and automated filters, scaling inventory with a call to action for sellers, retraining our search algorithms, and managing delivery expectations.”
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