1st Quarter Paper Outlook

“These disparities between printers are there,” notes Janis, “so one really needs to be paying attention to it; it’s not monolithic. If it hasn’t been an important part of your overall budgeting process, make it one,” advises Janis.

Because of the variances in pricing, opportunities may arise for print buyers to supply their own paper. “With variances, there are chinks in the armor—if you haven’t looked at supplying your own paper, now’s the time to do it,” he says.

Feeling No Pressure
The anticipated increases don’t seem to be alarming many printers, who are confident that a year similar to 1995 in any way is far from likely. In fact, a recent Printing Industries of America survey of web printers revealed that for the first time in recent years, paper prices no longer head the list of problems facing web printers. Although still a major concern, paper prices ranked third in the survey, behind a lack of skilled employees and over/under capacity troubles, respectively.

Only 15 percent of printers surveyed identified paper as the top concern—compared with 51.1 percent from the previous year.

Judging by the optimistic outlook of many printers, it would appear that a mild winter lies ahead—or is it just the calm before the storm?

“The economy cannot keep running at this pace. It’s hard to believe that these steady rate increases are going to continue,” notes Janis. “The January increase may not even hold across the quarter.”

—Carolyn R. Bak

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