In Brief

Anti-Trump Protests Are Boosting Art Supply Sales

A new report by the market research company NPD Group shows how the Women’s Marches directly increased sales of sign-making material.

Deborah Stein (left) and Hannah Ciniglio (right) at a We Make America work session (photo by Debra Pearlman)

The effectiveness of the many protests and marches that have occurred around the country following Trump’s election is difficult to gauge for many reasons, but they’ve had a very real and measurable impact on one industry: that of art and office supplies.

As shared in a new report by the market research company NPD Group, the Women’s Marches that colored cities pink in January directly increased sales of sign-making material as many chose to take to the streets with incredibly creative signs. According to the study’s figures, sales of poster boards in the US jumped by 33% and foam boards by 42% in the week prior to the worldwide event, compared to numbers recorded during that same week last year. In that month alone, retailers had sold over 6.5 million poster boards, nearly a third of which were purchased during the week of the organized march — which may have drawn as many as four million participants spread over 500 sites across the country. NPD’s report provides some additional specifics for data and stationary enthusiasts:

Tools used to assist in making the poster messages stand out also grew during that week, including paint markers (+35 percent), specialty markers (+24 percent), and permanent markers (+12 percent). Poster makers also included images and letters on their posters using craft tools such as glue (+27 percent), adhesives (+12 percent), scissors (+6 percent), and paper punches (+4 percent).

Fabric paint sales also soared during that period, up at least three times compared to other weeks in January, likely due to all the T-shirts with custom slogans. The bump in overall sales is welcome news, especially when one considers the slew of shutterings of art supply stores in recent years. New York City alone has witnessed the closure of Canal Street’s Pearl Paint in 2014 and of Lee’s Art Shop and the 111-year-old New York Central Art Supply in 2016. Only earlier this month did news arrive of the forthcoming demise of A.I. Friedman, which will end its 80-year-long run on West 18th Street come April 30.

As NPD’s report notes, the future holds plenty more protests, which presents “an opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to monitor and prepare for product demand in larger cities where they typically occur. Regardless of personal views on the current political climate, consumers’ demand for products that allow them to creatively express themselves represents an opportunity for incremental sales.” Trump, at the very least, is making the market for creative tools great again.

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