Is There Really a Global Shortage of Colored Pencils?
I don’t think anyone would argue that the recent high demand for adult coloring books had failed to cause a similar increase in colored pencils, but is there any truth to the claims that the high demand has lead to a shortage?
I’ll let you be the judge.
On Saturday the Telegraph became the latest publication to cover the "shortage" when they proclaimed the shortage in their headline, and then backed it up with an anecdotal assertion from coloring book designer Johanna Basford:
Colouring-in fans just love their pens and pencils, they become real artists. I get messages from people in New Zealand and Australia saying there are big shortages now. It’s really nice that something I was passionate about is now shared worldwide."
Colin Freeman, one of the writers of that piece, told me on Twitter that he also had reports from retailers which said that colored pencil supplies were in short supply, and he also noted in the piece that pencil makers are running extra shifts to meet demand, but I’m not so sure that is enough to conclude that there is a shortage.
Also, last October the NZ Herald mentioned that "leading colouring pencil manufacturers Staedtler and Stabilo (were) struggling to keep up with the worldwide demand." The Herald did not name a source for that statement, however.
While technically it does meet the dictionary definition for shortage, I have an aversion to clickbait-sounding headlines which made me go look for evidence to refute or support the claim.
For example, my favorite pencil shop, CW Pencil in Manhattan, said that they had not heard anything about a shortage. "To my knowledge, none of our distributors have communicated a specific shortage of pencils, spokesperson Caitlin Elgin told me by email. "We have certainly seen an uptick in sales of colored pencils because of the craze, particularly around the holidays, but for the most part haven’t had trouble stocking colored pencils (or regular pencils for that matter).
"The one exception would be the Irojiten Color Dictionary sets that we had a hard time getting for about two months (they come from Tombow in Japan), but again, our distributor didn’t mention that was because of a pencil shortage."
Emily Stone, a spokesperson for Faber-Castell concurred, telling BT.com that “We are not seeing a pencil shortage, but our production has increased significantly compared to the previous year thanks to the colouring trend.”
Sandra Suppa, a representative for a different part of Faber-Castell, shared more details with Inquisitr.com. “The production of our artists’ pencils has increased strongly compared to the previous year," she told them. "Currently, we are running more shifts than usual in our factory in Stein, Bavaria in order to satisfy the global needs for artists pencils related to the colouring trend for adults. The trend is continuing to this day and can be felt globally – from South America to Asia.”
So tell me, does that sound like a shortage to you?
In all honesty, there’s enough of a dispute here that one’s own bias will likely swing one’s answer either in favor or against. I don’t think this rises to the definition of a shortage, but I also have to say that I can see why others reached that conclusion.
Have you had trouble getting colored pencils?
image by arquera