The National Association for Printing Leadership's (NAPL) survey of its Printing Business Panel reports a continuing decline in sales in February.
Sales for the members of the business panel fell 2.6% in February, after a 4.1% sales drop in January, which was the steepest decrease since last June. The drop in percentage more than offset the gains recorded between September and December when sales rose 1.1%. In March, prices for nearly half of the Printing Business Panel fell 48.5%, while only 9.7% reported a rise in prices.
"Concern [for] what's ahead is growing," says Andrew Paparozzi, VP and chief economist for NAPL. "It's another setback in our struggle to recover from recession."
Paparozzi says the impact that the war in Iraq is having on the economy compounds the situation.
"There's one hopeful sign. We're off to a better start than last year, when sales declined 6.7% through February 28. The decline for the same period of 2003 has been nearly
half as steep, at 3.4%."
The NAPL Printing Business Index (PBI), which the association uses to measure print activity, also dropped in March, to 44.4. The PBI has fallen below the 50.0 mark for five straight months. A PBI below 50 reflects that more printers report a slowdown in business than those who report an upturn in their businesses.