The pandemic hit the German market for paper, office supplies and stationery hard. In the two years of coronavirus, 2020 and 2021, sales slumped by a total of 2 billion euros. Paper, as the largest sub-market, shows the strongest decline with a drop in sales of 14.3 per cent. But sales of office and school supplies, which were still on a slight upswing before the pandemic, also fell by double digits during the pandemic. Writing implements fared similarly, although fountain pens, pencils and coloured pencils as well as artificial colours and chalk were able to gain ground in this submarket.
Even though the situation caused by the pandemic is waning – at least for the time being – the general conditions for industry and the retail trade remain challenging, and are being further aggravated by the war being waged by Putin.
In 2021, every German spent an average of 16.5 per cent less on stationery products than in 2016. And against the backdrop of the pandemic alone, the calculations in the recently published “Branchen-REPORT Papier, Bürobedarf und Schreibwaren 2022” (Paper, Office Supplies and Stationery Industry Report 2022) are cautiously optimistic for the future. However, it must also be acknowledged that the pandemic has proven to be a forward-looking factor despite its negative impact. But coronavirus and now the war in particular continue to affect the consumer climate. The decline in footfall in city centres remains noticeable, while online business is booming in the sector, with its market share growing to 22.6 per cent in the last five years. Retailers and an ever-increasing number of manufacturers had opted for B2C sales strategies during the coronavirus crisis. A trend without reversal.
Moreover, numerous supply chains remain disrupted. And the dynamic cost spirals are intensifying the losses in turnover and profit that are perceptible in many product ranges. As a result, profitability and thus the ability to invest remain limited. On the other hand, transformation processes and digitalization are being driven forward more consistently. This is because, among other things, distance selling proved its competitive strength before and during the pandemic. In 2016, this retail format generated 2.5 billion euros in sales with stationery articles; by 2021, the increase totalled more than 12 per cent.
There is, however, a need for action not only on the marketing side, but also on the procurement side. The association of the branded paper, office supplies and stationery industry is concerned about the future owing to the tight availability of raw materials and the incalculable procurement costs. They say they have to contend with unprecedented cost increases.
Other market-relevant trends that will continue to influence the business models and product ranges of the stationery industry in the future include digitalisation and the aspect of sustainability. Even during the pandemic, the demand for sustainable offers became increasingly louder. Customers asked for more quality and individual products. That is why the bricks-and-mortar retail trade adapted their assortments accordingly, even if the sales figures do not always follow the same path yet. Insiders estimate the share of sustainable products in turnover at a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 15 per cent. But there is no way around a strategic sustainable orientation. Ecological forestry, for example, plays just as great a role in paper procurement as relinquishing plastic films.
The new way of working is proving to be the impulse-giving trend for stationery and the office industry as a whole. For Soennecken CEO Georg Mersmann, classic office supplies are a “predatory and not a growth market”. But he is not the only one who sees opportunities to benefit from the market consolidation associated with this trend. In this context, trade and industry are specifically pursuing the target groups that are confident online users.
The “Branchen-REPORT Papier, Bürobedarf und Schreibwaren 2022” by Marketmedia24 shows the current trends driving the market and provides facts and sales figures for the bricks-and-mortar retail sector in Germany.
With well-founded market and sales scenarios up to the year 2030, the expert study is an important orientation aid for all market players.
The study can be ordered for the price of €850.00 plus VAT from www.marketmedia24.de/shop/buerowirtschaft.php
About the author:
Eva Barth-Gillhaus is a specialist journalist through and through. She combines research with understanding and factual knowledge with experience. She learnt how to do this early on in her history studies at the University of Cologne. Her goal is to make even complex contexts easy to understand – and she succeeds in doing so! Her love of writing flows into the studies at Marketmedia24, because everyone there appreciates it when market knowledge is fun.