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Americans spent millions on protest sign materials in January

By By MATTHEW TOWNSEND and JEFF GREEN
Bloomberg
In this Monday, Feb. 13, 2017 photo, tech workers hold signs as they protest Trump administration policies in San Francisco. In the wake of the 2016 election, old-school, anti-capitalist activists and new-school, free-enterprise techies in the city are pushing aside their differences to take on a common foe. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Here’s one gauge of the rekindled American enthusiasm for political statements: Sales of poster boards, markers and other sign-making supplies jumped more than 30 percent in the week before Donald Trump’s inauguration and the Jan. 21 Women’s March, according to data from the NPD Group, which tracks sales of consumer goods.

That week, Americans spent an estimated $6 million on supplies-not insignificant considering that many of the individual items cost $1 or less. Sales of foam boards rose 42 percent. Poster board sales grew 33 percent, and in the week before the inauguration, stores sold roughly one-third of the 6.8 million poster boards sold in January. Paint markers and fabric paint for t-shirts also sold more briskly than normal, said Leen Nsouli, director of industry analysis for office suppliers at NPD.

The sale jump was an unexpected boon to office supply retailers, which had seen sales drop for 22 weeks with the exception of the week before Christmas, and the two weeks before the march.

“You were seeing people use more traditional methods to express their thoughts, which was something that we hadn’t seen as much,” said Nsouli. In the past, “everything was always on the computer, on the phone. This was a really cool way to see it on paper, in pencil.”

The Women’s March drew record crowds to Washington D.C., and hundreds of thousands of people attended marches in other cities around the U.S. to protest President Donald Trump’s presidency and to advocate for women’s rights. Organizers estimated that 5 million people participated globally.

With more demonstrations planned for the future, retailers might want to stock up, Nsouli said-and protesters should plan ahead. Days before the inauguration and march, Twitter users were posting photos of empty poster board racks at stores in the D.C. area, in Glendale, Colorado, and Queens, N.Y., CNN reported.

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