The stationery sector shows first signs of recovery: The future of the stationery sector

The current Industry REPORT Paper, Office Supplies and Stationery 2023 by Marketmedia24 examines the trends in Germany. Between 2012 and 2022, the stationery market has shrunk by around 22 per cent. However, the survey also showed positive signs: For example, the downturn in sales due to last year’s pandemic has not only decreased but, in some cases, has even been reversed.

Despite the challenging framework conditions, Volker Jungeblut, Managing Director of the Association of the Stationery Industry, is optimistic “that 2023 can be a good year for the industry if inflation can be successfully curbed”. A hope that is reflected in the best-case scenario of the Cologne-based market experts. According to this, sales in the stationery sector will be able to grow to roughly 12.4 billion euros by 2030. They will still be around 15 per cent below pre-Covid (2019) figures, yet a solid 6 per cent higher than today.

The relevance of paper is growing again


Around more than two thirds of stationery sales fall to the paper market which, compared to the overall economy, performed clearly lower for years and was hit hard during the pandemic, with sales falling to minus 24.2 per cent. However, first signs of a recovery are appearing: This is reflected by current market surveys of Marketmedia24 as well as the first sales reports from the branded stationery sector. A trend that is also affirmed by representative online research conducted exclusively amongst consumers. According to this, 50.6 per cent of those interviewed across Germany stated that they buy paper “occasionally”, and a further 15.4 per cent “frequently”. Office supplies and school articles are quoted by 19 per cent of those interviewed as being “frequently” on the shopping list, with stationery gracing the lists of 25 per cent of those asked.


Sustainability as the most important buying criterion

Sustainability is stated as the most important buying criterion for stationery products. The research findings provide additional strategic information when asked about the most widely recognised brands, the origin of products, the retail price and availability of products.


Specialist retailers are gaining relevance again post-Covid

The specialised brick and mortar trade, according to the stationery brand industry, is an indispensable distribution channel. On the one hand, purchases are not only bought as needed, but brands have the chance to stand out by being especially visible in specialised shops. And even according to German consumers, specialist retailers play the main role in their shopping activities as shown by the research findings – both for paper (50.5 per cent of respondents), office supplies and school articles (62.4 per cent) and stationery (60.8 per cent) as well as across almost all 18 of the target groups asked. In relation to the relevance for the market, this retail format may have lost 4.3 percentage points of its market share since 2012, yet lastly (2022 compared to 2021) the stationery specialists achieved a plus in sales of around 2.1 per cent. This makes specialist retailers the sole competing retail format which could record a positive financial year in 2022.

In terms of its long-term future, Marketmedia24 rates the performance of specialty stationery shops rather reserved. Even in a best-case scenario, the market share will fall by 2030. With around 3 billion euros in sales, those numbers will have decreased by roughly 30 per cent compared to the best year to date, which was 2019.


TikTok is growing as a promotional platform

According to the survey, a new era is dawning when it comes to communication channels or advertising measures in the industry. 58.2 per cent of the interviewed consider printed brochures very important or important, with social media channels ranking lower for a vast majority. And also for the youngsters (up to the age of 24), advertising brochures are an important source of information, while a solid 46.8 per cent of this target group rate TikTok, for example, as a very important or important information tool. But even more important for them is the experience or recommendations of friends, family members, fellow students, and colleagues.



About the author:

Marketmedia24 is a market research and consultation institute in Cologne. Founded in 2010, Marketmedia24 merges the knowledge of around twenty specialists.


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