CHICAGO, March 16, 2023– According to Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group, business-to-business (B2B) sales revenue for both the office supplies and technology industries finished 2022 with growth of 8% and 10%, respectively. While each industry faced its own set of challenges throughout the pandemic as employees worked from home for an extended period, the return to offices has also created opportunities in each industry.
As of February 2023, Circana estimates that 39 million employees worked from home with the expectation that this number will continue to decline to 20 to 30 million on average, as holiday seasonality continues to settle. This is down from a peak of 88 million in August 2020. The increased number of employees returning to the office in a full-time or hybrid capacity resulted in changing demands for businesses and manufacturers alike.
According to Circana’s new U.S. Office Supplies Commercial Tracking Service vertical data, which provides visibility into 19 vertical industry sectors, businesses in the professional, scientific and technical services sector (made up of consultative services offices, including law, accounting and engineering) increased unit sales of office supplies products by 16%, year over year, in 2022. This rise follows two years of unit sales declines from 2019 through 2021. Strong unit sales gains were realized by office staples, such as writing instruments, up 37%, office paper, up 32%, and office essentials, up 13%. Janitorial and breakroom products also grew after two years of declines, rising 7%, after steep declines during the height of the pandemic.
In this same vertical sector, unit sales of B2B technology products grew 15% (not including professional services and warranties) as employees returned to offices, in some capacity, in 2022. According to Circana’s Vertical Reseller Tracking data, categories in the professional, scientific and technical services sector with strong unit growth included build-to-order (BTO) notebooks, up 17%, docking stations, up 19%, keyboards, up 10%, mice, up 10%, and monitors, up 9%. BTO servers also increased 16%, as businesses required additional on-premises data storage.
“While work-from-home policies and preferences are still evolving, the impact on business needs and spending is clear and can vary by vertical sector,” said Tia Frapolli, president of Circana’s Office Supplies practice. “For manufacturers, being able to see performance and purchase trends at the vertical level across the office supplies and B2B technology industries allows for more informed decision making and the ability to identify untapped opportunities.”