This industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of stationery, such as paper products (including printing and engraving), postcards, school and office forms, legal forms, and supplies. Those establishments primarily engaged in selling office forms and supplies are discussed in SIC 5112: Wholesale Trade, and those primarily engaged in the retail sale of greeting cards are discussed in SIC 5947: Gift, Novelty, and Souvenir Shops.
Office Supplies and Stationary Stores
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 8,787 establishments engaged in the retail sale of stationery in 2001, employing approximately 127,922 people with an annual payroll of $2.7 billion. By 2003, there were approximately 12,377 establishments generating $19 billion in sales. Average sales per establishment were $2.3 million. The number of employees climbed slightly to 132,781. The largest segment was office forms and supplies with 7,856 businesses, accounting for more than 63 percent of the overall market. Stationery stores numbered 3,060 businesses, and accounted for more than 24 percent of the market. School supplies numbered 888 businesses, and writing supplies numbered 489. States with the most establishments were California with 1,683, New York with 1,107, and Texas with 1,046. Combined, they employed 34,163 people, and controlled 31 percent of the market.
Sales in the retail stationery industry were somewhat erratic in the 1990s. The total sales volume was stagnant or declining slightly in the early 1990s. However, the industry recovered and grew slightly in the mid-1990s and continued to grow in the later part of the decade. Industry sales rose significantly in the late 1990s; sales of office supply superstore chains Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max together had estimated sales of $13.2 billion in 1997. Staples reported sales of $7.1 billion for 1998, while Office Depot's sales reached $8.9 billion. Office Max, the smallest of the three superstores, had sales of $4.3 billion in 1998. These superstores nonetheless are discussed in this category since they sell the same goods as smaller stationery stores and have a dramatic impact on those stores. While office superstores have become immensely popular, discounters, supermarkets, and drug stores all have seen significant growth in stationery sales.
Office products have become the central component of many stationery stores. This change also has affected the kinds of stationery stores that control the market. Many smaller, independent dealers have been merged or acquired, while several large retailers have grown even larger. An indication of the depth of the shift is that the trade association formerly known as the National Stationers Association is currently known as the National Office Products Association (NOPA).
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, establishments that sell to the general public are classified as retail traders, even if the material they sell is not used in a household. Establishments that sell exclusively to businesses, institutional and industrial establishments are classified in wholesale trade. Most retail stationery stores categorized in this industry have fixed addresses, advertise to attract buyers, and buy merchandise in addition to selling it. Commodity classifications are assigned according to the primary source of an establishment's receipts. In the case of the stationery store industry, this means that a...