As much of the United States shelters-in-place to bend the curve and control the spread of COVID-19, many workers are being asked to work from home if their job allows. At SurveyMonkey, we were interested in how this shift impacted different industries, so we partnered with Second Measure to take a deeper dive into the data, by combining consumer transaction data with survey insights.
In a recent SurveyMonkey Audience survey of 2,759 adults, over 40% of U.S. workers report working from home, as of April 4, 2020. In order to do so, many Americans have been purchasing office supplies as part of their transition to working from home. According to the survey, over 45% of workers that are now working remotely have purchased office supplies in the last 30 days as a direct result of working from home due to COVID-19.
As shown in the chart below, the most common supplies include general office consumables such as paper and pens (65%). Additionally, 29% of workers purchased some type of electronics as part of their transition to working remotely. Looking ahead, 57% of workers that have already purchased office supplies plan on purchasing additional supplies in the coming weeks.
We partnered with Second Measure, a firm that analyzes billions of anonymized U.S. purchases, to see the impact of that reported consumer behavior on company performance. Transaction data reveals a dramatic rise in year-over-year sales at major office supply retailers (see chart below).
According to Second Measure, in January and February 2020, year-to-date sales at Office Depot and Staples were down year over year, hovering between -3% and -9%. Growth began to climb in March, rising over 10 percentage points at each company throughout the month. This shift to positive growth leaves Office Depot up 3% and Staples up 4% year over year as of March 29, 2020. Review the full analysis from Second Measure for more transaction data insights on office supply spending as a result of COVID-19.
Online versus traditional retail purchases
So where are consumers currently shopping for office supplies? Overwhelmingly, we found that the majority (74%) of people working from home are shopping online versus going to a retail store (38%) to purchase items for their home office. This is being supported by the finding by Second Measures data that suggests an upward trend in online shopping at Staples among all U.S. consumers.
Big box retailers versus local suppliers
Whether purchasing online or at a brick and mortar store, people who are working from home are continuing to purchase office supplies at big box retailers, including Staples® (30%), Best Buy® (26%) and Office Depot® (25%) versus smaller, local office suppliers (9%). As shown in the chart below, over 40% of consumers that purchased office supplies online have shopped at online retailers (including Amazon®) rather than the traditional big box office supply brands.
About SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey Audience provides access to fast, reliable market research to over 80M people in 100+ countries. Brands and investors can survey specific demographics to understand market trends, measure brand sentiment, and predict churn due to price increases or new entrants. This content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and does not constitute investment, financial, legal or any other advice. You should not act upon the content or information found here without first seeking appropriate advice from a financial planner, accountant, attorney or other professional.
This content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and does not constitute investment, financial, legal or any other advice. You should not act upon the content or information found here without first seeking appropriate advice from a financial planner, accountant, attorney or other professional.
Methodology: SurveyMonkey surveyed 2759 25-65 year old men and women to understand their attitudes regarding working from home and office supply purchasing. The results in this report are from an online survey that was fielded using SurveyMonkey Audience April 2020.