How Adult Colouring Books Have Led to a Pencil Shortage

As the UK office products industry celebrates National Stationery Week, an unexpected boost to the traditional office products market has emerged. The rise in popularity of adult colouring books over the past couple of years has apparently led to a shortage in pencils.

Faber-Castell, the world’s largest manufacturer of pencils has stated that they are currently experiencing “double digit growth” in the sales of artists’ coloured pencils. This has resulted in the company running more shifts at their German factory just to keep up with the demand.

Speaking to the Independent newspaper recently, Sandra Suppa from Faber Castell explained:

“The trend is continuing to this day and can be felt globally – from South America to Asia.”

Faber Castell colouring pencils

Adults favour high quality colouring pencils with a large assortment of colours

The adult market for colouring pencils is also seeing a demand for high quality and a greater variety of colours.

“People are now not satisfied with ‘just’ 36 colours and we are noticing a trend in people preferring bigger sets of 72 or even 120 colours for colouring”, said Suppa. “We are also noticing that people are investing in our highest quality artists’ pencils.”

“Colouring In” Helps Us to Relax and Unwind

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford is one of the most popular adult colouring book titles

One of the leading creators of adult colouring books, Johanna Basford, whose titles include “Secret Garden” has her own insight into this latest craze.

“There is something nice about picking up a pencil and a pen. You are not going to get interrupted by Twitter, and there is also a childhood nostalgia element to it,” she says.

Sandra Suppa agrees; “It allows you to catch a break from the fast-moving digital world and to give your eyes a rest from flickering computer screens. Colouring doesn’t require artistic training to get started, yet it offers a great sense of accomplishment when finishing a piece.”

Even luxury notebook brand Moleskine has recently entered the adult colouring book market with its “The Wandering City” colouring book.

Adult Colouring Books Boosts WH Smith Stationery Sales

High street stationery store WH Smith, whose fortunes has been mixed over recent years is also benefiting from the adult colouring book boom.

The “colour therapy” phenomenon has seen the store report its first increase in high street sales in over 14 years, during the 2015 Christmas period. Like for like sales rose by 2% in the 5 weeks to January 2nd 2016. The adult colouring book trends has extended to “querkles” or extreme colour by numbers and dot-to-dot for adults.

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Sam Rose