The ecommerce channel for U.S. retail office and school supplies had a solid second half of the year in 2010 driven in part by back-to-school and holiday sales, according to new research from The NPD Group.
From June to December, the ecommerce channel grew 4 percent while the office super store channel grew 1 percent and mass merchant/drug channel grew less than 1 percent.
“After a couple tough years, the office supply industry is showing signs of a modest recovery,” said Perry James, president of NPD’s office supplies and non-games software group.
“During the heart of the recession in 2009, many consumers and small businesses shifted out of the office super store and ecommerce channels and into mass/drug to save money. As the economy rebounded in 2010 sales shifted back to office super stores and ecommerce.”
In 2010, U.S. retail office supplies across the three major channels grew 1 percent in revenue after a 5 percent drop in 2009. The ecommerce channel grew slightly more than the office super store and mass merchant/drug channels, reaching 2 percent growth while experiencing price increases of 2.5 percent over the previous year. The office super store and mass merchant/drug channels grew 1 percent each.
“Similar to what we’ve seen in other categories, it appears that consumers and businesses are becoming comfortable purchasing office supplies through the ecommerce channel,” said James.
“Retailers, who sell both through brick and mortar and online, need to determine how they manage and differentiate both of these channels in order to maximize profits.”