NPD Recognizes 2020’s Top Industry Performers Across Key Office Supplies Categories at Retail

(March 3, 2021) – In 2020, the U.S. office supplies industry generated $12.6 billion in sales, down 0.3% vs. 2019, according to The NPD Group. * Despite challenges including shifts to remote learning, delayed school openings, and a continually evolving schooling structure (remote, hybrid, and in-person) that impacted the back-to-school selling season – e-commerce, organizational products, mailing & shipping supplies, and coloring & art materials drove industry sales.

As has been the case in many industries, e-commerce sales saw strong gains in office supplies, up 35% year over year, as the pandemic caused temporary store closures and hesitancy to go in-store from the consumer. In fact, e-commerce sales made up 20% of retail sales in 2020 compared to 15% in 2019. A slow back-to-school season, with total sales down 10% vs. 2019 played the biggest roll in e-commerce growth, as this period is typically an in-store growth driver. **

In addition to growing e-commerce sales, sales of products in the storage category (used for home organization) and mailing/shipping products were up in 2020 by 10% and 21%, respectively. Organizational products saw gains driven by the growing number of consumers that needed or wanted to revamp their living and working spaces to accommodate the increased amount of time at home. Top categories included: shredders (+18%) and presentation boards (+13%). Mailing and shipping products benefited from the increase of items being shipped, including marketplace sellers that needed packaging materials, as well as Americans who chose to relocate during this time.

For those that were looking for creative ways to pass the time at home in 2020 products in the coloring and art category were a great fit. This category saw 17% revenue increases vs. 2019, with the paint & painting supplies subcategory up 28% as consumers pursued various art trends through virtual classes to further their skills.

“Outside of the third quarter, the office supplies industry posted growth each quarter of 2020. Increases in categories related to lifestyle changes as a result of COVID drove this performance and helped offset the decline of school supplies purchases during the back-to-school season,” said Leen Nsouli, executive director and office supplies industry analyst at The NPD Group. “We expect trends around moving, home office, home organization, and marketplace seller shipping activity to continue to accelerate into 2021 with the potential return to school and the workplace providing further bright spots heading into the Fall.”     

2020 Top Performers


Below are the overall, top performing brands of 2020 across key office supplies categories, based on U.S. growth in market share over the previous year, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service.

“After a challenging year for the office supplies industry we are happy to take this opportunity to celebrate 2020’s top performing brands. Congratulations on your success,” said Tia Frapolli, President, Office Supplies, The NPD Group. “We wish everyone a healthy and successful year ahead.” 

* Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, Jan.-Dec. 2020 (excluding janitorial & breakroom)
** Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, 13WE Oct. 3, 2020 vs. 13WE Oct. 5, 2019 (excluding janitorial & breakroom)