In 2021, luxury writing instruments and stationery began the first year of an expected long road to recovery to the 2019 level of current value sales. While the category was one of the least negatively affected within personal luxury amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks in large part to its more essential nature and usefulness during quarantines, it still registered its steepest sales decline in recent history.
A primary contributor to the weakened sales of luxury writing instruments and stationery in 2020 and the first half of 2021 was the effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This forced the closure of, or contributed to reduced foot traffic to, the category’s leading store-based retail channels throughout much of these two years.
With many offices and other white-collar workplaces across the US having closed in mid-March 2020 and remained closed throughout the remainder of that year and also into 2021, luxury writing instruments and stationery was supported by workers using company money, as well as their own personal funds and government stimulus payments, to set up remote workspaces inside their homes. While monitors, desks, chairs, and other furniture were especially popular, some consumers also sought out luxury writing instruments and stationery from brands including the 2020 category leader Montblanc, in order to upgrade from the standard pens and pencils they had at home and try to feel a stronger sense of being part of a professional organisation while working remotely.
In the years prior to the pandemic, demand for luxury writing instruments and stationery had been falling, as consumers became increasingly dependent on digital devices for both work and play. While ball point pens and fountain pens from luxury brands, especially Richemont’s Montblanc, remained popular amongst professionals for both work and gifting, many younger consumers lack both knowledge of and interest in writing with fountain pens and other luxury writing instruments.
The future performance of luxury writing instruments and stationery will be greatly impacted by the degree to which e-learning and remote working continue over the forecast period, and if consumers return en masse to fully reopened schools and workplaces. While some students, especially wealthy international students, and business professionals did purchase luxury writing instruments and stationery amidst the pandemic in order to use while learning or working remotely, few are likely to continue doing so over the coming years if remote learning and working continue.
With consumers largely preferring to browse and purchase luxury writing instruments in stores, thanks to the ability to hold and test products themselves, as well as to solicit advice and recommendations from knowledgeable store employees, the category saw slower e-commerce growth prior to the pandemic than many other personal luxury categories. However, e-commerce penetration registered strong growth in 2020, as necessity led many consumers to shop for luxury writing instruments online for the first time, and sales remained stronger via this channel in 2021, as more consumers than ever before became comfortable purchasing high-priced luxury writing instruments online.
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