Mad Money

'It was suddenly Cyber Monday' — Etsy CEO says sales spiked 79% in April

Key Points
  • "Non-mask sales on Etsy were up 79% year over year in the month of April," Etsy CEO Josh Silverman says.
  • The company also sold $133 million worth of face masks during the month, which was not included in the 79% increase, he said one day after the company posted mixed results in the first quarter.
  • He said "our sellers are so good at inventing products that are really relevant for the moment and then being ready to ship those."
VIDEO2:2802:28
Etsy CEO: Merchants sold 12 million face masks, sales jumped 79% in April

Etsy sales nearly doubled last month as businesses opened new shops and more consumers shopped from home on the online marketplace, CEO Josh Silverman told CNBC's Jim Cramer on Thursday.

Silverman said sales spiked 79% in the month of April, despite a number of categories that have been challenged by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Non-mask sales on Etsy were up 79% year over year in the month of April," he said in a "Mad Money" interview. "There are still some sellers and some categories that are getting really hard hit."

Etsy, where merchants who primarily deal in handmade products can run an online store, sold about 12 million face masks worth about $133 million on the site during the same 4-week period, he added. Face mask sellers who were already marketing products on the site received a boost from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when it advised people to wear cloth masks to protect against Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in early April.

"When the CDC changed its guidelines ... we all of a sudden saw overwhelming amounts of demand come on to our site," Silverman said. "It's as if we woke up and it was suddenly Cyber Monday, but everyone in the world wanted only one product and it was a product that basically didn't exist 2 weeks before."

Soon after the announcement, Etsy saw "thousands" of sellers making "hundreds of thousands of masks per day," he added. 

VIDEO0:0100:01
Etsy CEO on crafting face masks for the coronavirus effort

Etsy also saw bright spots in the home furnishing, toys, games and gardening departments during the month. Those sales results are a snapback from a tough month of March when sales were 20% in the negative, Silverman revealed.

"All of these categories are just doing fantastic," he said, "and our sellers are so good at inventing products that are really relevant for the moment and then being ready to ship those."

Etsy reported a mixed first quarter on Wednesday. The company brought in $228 million in revenues, beating Wall Street estimates, but missed the bottom line by 8 cents per share, posting 10 cents of earnings per share. Business grew nearly 35% year over year in the quarter ended March 31.

While some categories are humming on Etsy, others are slumping, particularly weddings. With social distancing mandates in place and gatherings limited to small groups, marriage ceremonies are in limbo.

"Weddings would normally be a huge category for us in the month of April and for our sellers in the month of April," Silverman said. "Weddings is down more than 50% year over year, but many other categories are doing absolutely fantastic."

As business began to boom again on Etsy, the company reversed course after cutting back on marketing spend, as many companies do in recessionary environments, at the end of March. The company, Silverman said, revamped its advertising program to get placements on television in mid-April as sales spiked.

"We told our marketing team, 'We need to get on TV, now, to tell our story,'" he explained to Cramer. "This is our moment."

Shares of Etsy fell 2% during the trading day. The stock is up almost 73% year to date.

VIDEO10:0410:04
Etsy e-retail sales jump 79%, sold 12 million face masks in April, CEO says

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