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Is the Writing on the Wall for the Stationery Market?

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Stationery (Personal & Office) is Key Note's newest Market Update and focuses on the apparent UK market for stationery at manufacturers' selling prices (msp). It charts the difficulties the stationery market is having currently in the wake of technological innovations, which are one of the greatest threats to the prosperity of some sectors within the industry alongside the 'green' movement and an increasingly environmentally-conscious public.


The apparent UK market for personal and office stationery stood at an estimated £1.01bn in 2011, representing a fairly significant fall in value from 2008, the beginning of Key Note's 4-year review period. The poor economic situation has damaged sales from the corporate sector as UK businesses continue to struggle, and Government cutbacks have resulted in a reduction in the amount of spending on stationery by public bodies, such as the health and education sectors.


The largest market sector in the broadest terms remains the paper and board sector (the other being non-paper and board); however, the past 4 years have seen a decline in value in excess of a third as the 'green' movement puts pressure on society to reduce its paper usage as technology, such as tablet computers, begins to trickle into business environments to be used in lieu of physical paper copies. The business forms and listing papers subsector has been particularly badly affected, mostly thanks to the newfound prevalence of online and computerised forms; while envelopes have suffered greatly thanks to the decline in the volume of direct mail, which has begun to be usurped by e-mail and other digital forms of communication.


Against such a gloomy background, stationery is being forced to undergo a transition, with ranges being repositioned in order to face up to the challenging environment in which they now operate. As the general use of stationery and the value of the market declines, it has become more common to see items of stationery, such as notebooks, adapted to include striking or eye-catching designs. Innovation is also important in other sectors, such as writing instruments, which have begun to push stationery more towards the gifting sector compared to previous years, when practical usage was the key aspect of such products.


The outlook for the stationery market is mixed. Though it is true that many items such as fountain pens and stationery gift sets -- including the aforementioned highly-designed notebooks -- will remain popular over the next 5 years Key Note is predicting a general trend of decline, thanks to a somewhat rampant rise in computerisation and digitalisation that is likely to occur by 2016, at which point the stationery market will be worth an approximate £985m.



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Press enquiries: Jack Sykes at Key Note at or 0845-504 0452. Press/review copies of the report are available on request.