Printing Sales Jump 3.6% in September
Printing professionals have waited a long time for a jump in sales to come along, and any increase however slight is a welcome one.
According to the National Association for Printing Leadership's (NAPL) 2002-2003 State of the Industry Report, printing sales rose 3.6% in September, the first increase in 16 months signaling a gradual improvement in economic fundamentals. Despite the increase, an all-out industry celebration should be placed on hold as the industry saw little lessening of the pressure on prices or profitability that reached a peak during the recent recession.
"The report shows that underneath all the bad economic news, economic fundamentals are gradually improving, suggesting continued recovery rather than double-dip recession," notes Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL vice president and chief economist. "Recovery for printing will continue to be painfully slow. When it hits, only those printers who have adjusted to the ways in which our industry is being redefined will participate in that recovery."
The report found that 43.4 percent of the NAPL Printing Business Panel claimed their prices are lower this year than at the same time last year, and 41.2 percent report lower pre-tax profitability. While 26 percent of the panel said profits are up from last year, the gains are tied to broad cost cutting measures and not as a result of the firming of revenues and prices that signal meaningful recovery from recession.
While down slightly from the 54.1 reading recorded in September, the October NAPL Printing Business Index, at 52.3, rose above 50 for the third consecutive month. Any reading above the midway point indicates that more printers claim activity is picking up rather than slowing down. The index polls a representative group of more than 300 printers each month on an array of printing topics. The issues include work-on-hand, current business conditions, expected business conditions, hiring plans, profitability and other key indicators.