Industry Improvement Graded on Recessional Curve

PARAMUS, NJ—Conditions in the printing industry have improved, but only relative to the deeply depressed levels of spring 2009, according to economists at the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) in the NAPL Printing Business Conditions update recently released.

Sales are still down, they noted, but trends over the last three and six months show that the industry is headed in the “right direction.” However, as the economy heats up, so will cost inflation, and the NAPL economists noted it is difficult for printers to pass on higher costs to customers in markets that are still weak and intensely competitive.

According to the report, sales fell 8.7 percent during the six months ending in March 2010 and 5.4 percent during the three months ending in March, a marked improvement over comparable numbers a year ago, when sales were down 12.1 percent over the previous six months and 14.3 percent during the previous three months.

“While the six-month average captures trend, the three-month average—which was down 18.1 percent at the deepest point in the recession—anticipates the direction of a trend,” the NAPL economists wrote. “As we approach mid-year, the free fall is over and we are moving toward growth.”

Part of the “NAPL State of the Industry” series, sponsored by Heidelberg, the report noted that 40.8 percent of NAPL Printing Business Panel members said sales increased last quarter—nearly five times the 8.6 percent that reported rising sales in the first quarter of 2009. And, while 59.2 percent now still report sales decreasing, that is down significantly from the 91.4 percent who reported sales were down at this time last year.

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