Even before the onset of COVID-19, retail current value sales of writing instruments were in steady decline, as many local consumers increasingly used computers and particularly smartphones instead of paper. The disruption caused by the pandemic – particularly the closure of educational institutions and workplaces for an extended period – led to a steep decline in demand for writing instruments, with demand for writing accessories – such as pen inkwells and refills – and fountain pens particularly weak.
Stationary/office supply stores were the dominant distribution channel for writing instruments prior to the pandemic, but during 2020, they lost retail value share to modern grocery retailers (which were not affected by lockdown restrictions) and e-commerce, as local consumers spent more time at home and shopped online in growing numbers. However, stationary/office supply stores will regain the bulk of this lost retail value share during 2021, partly due to stronger demand for such premium brands as Montblanc and Caran d’Ache.
Writing instruments is highly competitive, with Caran d'Ache SA and AW Faber-Castell Schweiz AG the leading players. Caran d'Ache is particularly well known for its colouring products and graphite pencils.
Retail current value sales of writing instruments will continue to expand during 2022 and the forecast period as a whole, but this growth will be marginal. Demand will be boosted by the re-opening of educational institutions and workplaces as the threat posed by COVID-19 recedes, with markets and highlighters set to be the top performer during the forecast period.
E-commerce is likely to grow in popularity as a distribution channel for writing instruments over the course of the forecast period due to the convenience and competitive pricing that it offers, in addition to the fact that manufacturers and retailers are now paying much more attention to this channel. E-commerce may also make it easier for less expensive brands in writing instruments, particularly those of non-European origin, to catch the attention of local consumers.
Fountain pens will remain an expensive niche in writing instruments. These items are increasingly viewed as luxury items to be given as gifts or collected by affluent enthusiasts and international tourists.
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This report originates from Passport, our Writing Instruments research and analysis database.
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