Are Office Supply Stores Following Big Box Chains Down The Drain?

We’ve seen big box stores pare down the number of retail stores from their roll, as well as cut physical space and try to bulk up online sales. Now it looks like office supply stores are the latest retailers to feel the heat from Amazon: Staples announced it would be shuttering 45 stores in Europe and speed up the closing of 15 more in the U.S. to try and save $250 million a year.

The office supply industry is hurting due to multiple factors, notes Businessweek. First of all — we just don’t use as many pens, paper and traditional office supplies as we used to. Why jot a note on a pad of paper and lose it later when you can type it on your iPad and know exactly where it is?

And then there’s the ease of the Internet — sure, Staples had its “easy button” campaign, but that’s just a toy that does nothing. Whereas the Internet and its simple ordering process and bargain prices is even easier than any big red button. The recession and the economic crisis in Europe haven’t helped things much, either.

“The office supply business has been under pressure for really the past several years since the recession,” a New York-based analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, said in an interview. “It’s reliant on economic growth and small business formation, and we’ve seen a lack of both.”

Staples says it’s going to use the money it saves from closing stores to pump up its online business game. Staples is far form alone — competing with Amazon appears to be the biggest worry for many companies that traditionally relied on brick-and-mortar stores for business. Office Depot is going to announce a plan in October that could also close some of its physical stores as well, the company said earlier this month.

Staples to Shut 60 Stores in Plan to Save $250 Million [Businessweek]