Stationery retail market moves forward

The UK stationery market is set to rise by £49.1 million (2.4 per cent) from £2.06 billion in 2016 to around £2.1 billion by 2021, according to retail research and analysis firm Verdict Retail.

The company’s latest report states that this growth, which "defies the ongoing rise of smartphone and tablet ownership", will be driven by the trend of purchasing stationery as gifts, increased product ranges, and design-led products and innovation.

Verdict associate analyst Sarah Johns said: "New entrants have made the sector more competitive and innovative than ever before. Low entry barriers have enabled new market entrants to experiment with product design, which has triggered increased interest in stationery, particularly among those aged 16-24.

"Increased product choice of premium stationery and availability of extra services such as personalisation mean shoppers are increasingly opting for stationery products as gifts.

"UK retailers are benefitting from shoppers who purchase stationery for a variety of occasions. For example, stationery is bought for children for the back to school period, for seasonal holidays such as Christmas, and for other occasions such as birthdays and Mother’s Day."

A recent survey conducted by Verdict Retail found that 57.4 per cent of stationery shoppers were female and only 42.6 per cent were male. In this way, retailers could increase sales by targeting marketing campaigns towards men as well as women, and by increasing product choice for men.

The stationery sub-categories that have seen the fastest growth in terms of value over the past five years are writing and drawing instruments, and accessories. These are also the sub-categories forecast to grow fastest by volume. Growth of the paper and notepad, storage and ‘other’ sub-sectors are slowing in terms of value, and volumes in these three sub-sectors are negative, continuing to decline over the forecast period.

One of the main reasons for this fall in sales is ongoing digitisation and the rise in ownership and usage of technological devices, meaning stationery is being used less and does not need to be replaced as frequently as it did a decade ago. However, this technological revolution and the increased ease and convenience of shopping online also means a transformation in channels used to purchase stationery. Indeed, 9.7 per cent of stationery shoppers surveyed bought stationery online.

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