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Semper Survey Finds Uptick in Printing Sales, but Negative Outlook Continues

November 7, 2011
BOSTON—Nov. 7, 2011—Semper International, the leading placement firm for skilled help in the graphic arts and printing industry, announces that the printing industry is pessimistic about future growth and hiring continues to stagnate.

“Responses show a continued slow down overall; the number of respondents reporting decreased sales is on the rise,” notes Dave Regan, CEO Semper International. “The election season is upon us. Government gridlock will hamper the Fed’s ability to respond.”

“Margin pressure is severe throughout the industry. Traditional ink to substrate printing is becoming a bigger profit center for companies, but downward pressure on pricing throughout the industry is preventing those increases needed to curb pessimism and stagnation,” added Regan

Since February 2003, Semper International has provided a quarterly survey offering estimates of trends in the printing and graphics industries. To prevent bias, survey questions—both qualitative and quantitative—are designed by Semper corporate partner Cvent. Survey participants include more than 300 small, medium and large printing companies—both clients and prospects of Semper International.

Participants provide data on revenue and hiring, as well as estimated outlooks on future trends. Data is requested from a random sample and are not screened. To preserve confidentiality, individual company information is not part of the tabulation.

The most recent survey indicates more negative business trends:

• 61 percent of companies surveyed reported a profitable third quarter. Profitability has decreased every quarter, but this is the smallest quarterly drop (4 percent) this year.

• Looking at the first two weeks of fourth quarter 2011, the number of respondents reporting an increase in sales is up almost 5 percentage points.

• 20 percent of the companies interviewed expected sales to decrease through the remainder of the fourth quarter, the same as last quarter.

• Nearly 80 percent of respondents indicated that hiring levels will remain the same. These results were up 11 percent from the previous quarter. The number of companies laying off employees has been trending upward very slightly over the last year.

• For the seventh straight survey, a large majority of companies reported that healthcare is the labor cost component that increased the fastest during the past quarter. Although healthcare remains a concern, it is decreasing in importance. Overtime pay is a significant concern this quarter, with 23 percent of respondents reporting an increase in concern.

• The greatest competitive threat to printers remains the current economic climate. Respondents reporting threats from lower cost competitors jumped 53 percent.
 

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