Fountain Pens

Fountain penWith the popularity of tablets and smartphones, one would think that old-fashioned pen and paper would fall out of favor. But worldwide sales of pens and other writing instruments is expected to increase, from $16.2 billion in 2014 to $20.2 billion in 2019 according to the report Global Writing and Marking Instrument Market 2015-2019 by Technavio. Increased population and literacy levels are fueling demand in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. In the United States and Europe, luxury pens are in demand as gift items and as fashion accessories. Some brands of luxury pens include Cross, Krone, Parker, Think, and Waterman.

Today’s market size presents the total retail sales of one segment of this market: fountain pens. Global sales of fountain pens increased 2.1% from 2015 to 2016.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2016
Market size: $1 billion
Sources: Thomas, June, “How Nakaya Pens Anticipated The Writing-Tool Renaissance,” Bloomberg Businessweek, August 30, 2017 available online here; Yerak, Becky, “How The Pen Industry Hangs On In A Digital World,” Chicago Tribune, January 29, 2016 available online here.
Original source: Euromonitor International
Image source: Jackmac34, “Pen-fountain-pen-ink-gold-writing-631321,” Pixabay, February 11, 2015 available online here.

Office Supply Stores

The news last week that OfficeDepot and OfficeMax, two of the big three office supply retailers, are planning to merge made us think that a look at retail sales in this sector might be interesting. Sales made through stores dedicated to office supplies and stationery—an industry identified by the U.S. Census Bureau with the industry code NAICS 45321—have not been keeping up with the growth in retail sales generally since 2000. The 1990s were a period of strong growth for these retailers. Big box stores were spreading and doing well. Growth began to slow in the early 2000s and has declined each year since 2007, with the onset of a recession in December of that year.

Between 2000 and 2012, total retail sales in the United States—less auto-related sales—rose 58.6% while sales through office supply stores declined by 16.6%. Many factors are contributing to this decline. Primary among them are factors related to how we buy office supplies and not so much the volume of the supplies that we buy. The rising power of retailers with more general merchandise lines (Costco, Wal-Mart, etc.) is one significant factor as is the rise of online shopping.

Today’s market size is the value of sales at Office Supply and Stationery Stores in the United States in 1992, 2000, and 2012.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 1992, 2000, 2012
Market size: $9.184, $22.75 and $19.11 billion respectively
Source: “Estimates of Monthly Retail and Food Services Sales by Kind of Business: 2012,” February 13, 2013, part of a series published by the U.S. Census Bureau monthly, and available here.
Original source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census
Posted on February 25, 2013

Toner Market

Today’s market size is the estimated total size of the world’s output of toner. This post comes from a 2008 industry study in which trends in the toner market are assessed and shipments are forecast through 2012.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2006 and 2012
Market size: 195,599 tons and 256,162 tons respectively
Source: “Toner Market Forecast 2008 Version,” October 2008, a multi-client study produced by Data Supply Inc. and available online here.
Original source: Data Supply, Inc.
Posted on October 8, 2012

Paper Clips

Paper Clip

Many attempts have been made over the years to improve upon the design of the paper clip. So far it has proven very difficult to design something that works better and can be made more economically than the ubiquitous twist of wire we know as the standard paper clip.

It may come as a surprise to many to find out that most paper clips sold in the United States are still also made in the United States. Import tariffs, which have been in place on paper clips since 1994, have helped to keep a robust domestic manufacturing business alive and well bucking the trend towards off-shoring so prominent since the late 1990s.

The number of paper clips sold in the United States annually is high and makes one wonder, what do we do with all those paper clips, particularly in the “paperless society”? According to the source and a quick survey of our offices, here’s a list of uses, other than holding papers together, to which we put paper clips: hanging Christmas ornaments; restarting electronic devices that have tiny little restart buttons; cleaning our fingernails/ears (with apologies); linking them into a chain while chatting on the phone, and temporarily holding up a ripped hem.

Today’s market size is an industry estimate of the number of paper clips sold annually in the United States.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2010
Market size: 11 billion clips
Source: James R. Hagerty, “Mousetraps, Maybe, but Can You Build a Better Paper Clip?” The Wall Street Journal, online edition of August 29, 2011, available here.
Posted on September 7, 2011

Pens & Markers

While we depend more and more on digital communications, the world of the pen and paper remains strong. Today’s market size is the size of the global market for pens and markers, from fine writing instruments to highlighters.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2009
Market size: $18.5 Billion
Source: “Rubbermaid, Brands that Matter,” a report on the office products group of NewellRubbermaid, available online here.
Original source: Global Industrial Analysts Report 2008 and 2009, Nielsen, GfK, customer POS data, and 2008 Prismacolor A&U Study