Commercial Printing Outlook : Bootstrap Time for Printers

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Economy Continues Drag

In short, the economy is largely on its own. It is still recovering very slowly, and the final numbers for 2013 should see it posting less than 2 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, notes Dr. Ronnie Davis, senior vice president and chief economist at Printing Industries of America (PIA). His office measured $156 billion in printing-related activities for 2012, and it took a strong second half in 2013 for the printing industry to reach that same level.

From a 2014 standpoint, Davis is a bit more optimistic, projecting 2.5 percent growth for the U.S. economy. He sees more positive sentiment from the business and consumer ends than witnessed in ’13 and, as the recession becomes smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror, the confidence should continue to grow.

“One wild card is the issue of the global economy and how it could impact things,” Davis says. “The good news—energy development is a positive for the U.S. economy, and that’s certainly pushing the numbers up.”

While Davis cautions that the United States is in what he calls a mature economic recovery, he believes the stabilized recovery should help yield about 1 percent growth for the printing industry, adding $1.5 billion in terms of nominal printing sales. The printing industry is like the car at the very end of a long traffic jam; although the economy has been plodding along slowly for the past few years, movement for the printing industry comes much later.

“The $1.5 billion in nominal print doesn’t mean gravy time for printers because it’s going to remain very competitive,” Davis points out. “They’re still going to fight for sales and market share, with new business models focused on integrated print. With continued restructuring in terms of the decline in the number of printing establishments, we’ll still see some drop (in total companies).

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