COMMERCIAL PRINTING OUTLOOK -- Ambiguity is Certain
* Print must solidify its position in the media mix, chiefly by reducing its relative total cost.
According to NAPL's Paparozzi, a growing number of the printers surveyed by his association recognize the need to diversify. "The prevailing mindset still is to try to bring everything in-house," he says. "However, more printers are recognizing that the fastest way to profitable diversification may be through a partnership, whether it be an informal partnership, merger or acquisition."
Getting back to the shorter term, the PIA and NAPL economists agree there are a variety of other developments that will shape the outlook for the coming year.
There's good news and bad news concerning the outlook for printers' operating costs in 2003, Davis says. "On the positive side, the loose print labor markets should keep wage and salary costs in check. Also, consumables—such as ink, film and plates—shouldn't escalate too much. Two potential areas of concern are paper prices and employee health care costs," he explains.
Paparozzi points out that since consumer spending has been the only engine driving the economy of late, the outlook for 2003 really depends on whether or not consumers can continue to keep the economy growing until help arrives from business investment or Washington.
"No one knows the answer, but my feeling is that it comes down to employment. If the economy can continue to create jobs, we are going to be OK," he says. "Underneath the legitimate concerns, we are starting to see some improvement in the business fundamentals."
Then again, all bets could be off if there's any setback in the war on terrorism, Paparozzi cautions.
"The American economy is founded on confidence, so anything that undermines that confidence is going to push the economy back into recession," he says."Any effort, whether it is diplomatic or military, that removes the ambiguity and results in a favorable outcome for us will help the economy."