January 11, 2019 • Ana Olvera
The State of Paper: Trends in Today’s Card and Paper Shops
One of the more frequent queries I get concerns a domain that is not my personal strong suit: numbers. There is a paucity of statistics available about the stationery industry — and 2019 is the year we’re doing something about it.
Each of our four 2019 issues will focus on a different aspect of the industry, compiled to provide our readers with a sense of the current climate. Whether you are a retailer — brick- and-mortar, online or both — maker or manufacturer’s rep, our hope is that you get a sense of not just what others around you are doing, but what is succeeding.
This edition’s focuses on the modern stationery retailer. How big are their stores? From number of employees to average sale to lowest and highest priced items, our aim was to dive deep into the contemporary stationery selling space.
In Spring 2019, we’ll delve into top vendors and product categories, as well as selling strategies that are seeing results. Our Summer 2019 issue changes the focus to query makers and manufacturers for their perspective. What is selling amongst their wholesale clientele — and what are they introducing or planning to introduce that speaks to it?
Finally, we’ll finish up the year in our Fall 2019 issue with two surveys that focus on the future of stationery — one for the retailer, one for the supplier. We want to ask retailers how they envision the store of 2020 and beyond. What types of amenities are they offering customers to keep them satisfied and coming back?
We plan to take a similar approach with makers. How do they define their niche, and do they see their audience expanding or decreasing?
For this issue’s results, we conducted the survey from Oct. 4 through Oct. 15 through Survey Monkey. A total of 113 retailers responded, though not to every question. We’ve shared some of the results on the facing page.
We received a very clear snapshot of the small stationery store. Overall, the big picture looks very positive. Just about half (49.56 percent) of respondents reported that their prior year sales trends were up. Those reporting the sales trends as being the same as the previous year were 29.2 percent, and those with negative sales trends was the lowest number of the three: 21.24 percent of respondents, or just 24.
Overall, the small stationery shop is quickly becoming much more social media-savvy and delving into special events and services, from a pen bar to brush lettering classes. And, they’re not afraid to really commit to offering a rich diversity of product. One respondent even reported their most successful strategy of the past year as “working with at least 250 card vendors at any given time — cherry picking the best from each vendor has served us well.”
Keep reading for a snapshot of this round of results — and please be sure to respond to our upcoming surveys. The more respondents we get, the better the information we share with you will be!