What a Difference a Point Makes — Printing Shipments Part II
Last week, we reported about September printing industry shipments, and noted that the September to November period is the busiest of the year, stating that they were 26% of the year’s annual shipments. We received some notes that were along the lines of “So what? If three months is 25% of the year, what difference does that little percentage point really make?”
That’s a very good question. Facetiously, the answer is about $900 million dollars for a year. We didn’t explain why it’s important, or how these months, and others, have changed over time. This September-November represented 26.56% of industry shipments from 1992 to 2000, but this dropped to 26.17% in the period of 2001 to 2005. In 2005, it was 26.02%. The historic seasonal variations between months and quarters is lessening considerably to create a flatter shipments pattern.
Over time, even the calendar quarters have changed. The fourth calendar quarter (October-December) used to be 26.7% of the year’s shipments. In 2005, it was 25.4%. The first calendar quarter (January-March) used to be the weakest, at 24.1%; last year, it was 24.9%. The weakest three months of the year were traditionally May through July, at 23.89%; last year they represented 24.28% of shipments.
January was typically the least active month of the year, at about 7.7% of the year’s shipments. Last year, January was 8.1%, and July became the slowest month, with 7.8% of the shipments. The strongest month has always been October, but even that has slackened. From 1992-2000, it represented 9.15% of shipments. Last year, it was 8.88%. March is growing in importance.
Each month of the calendar is about 1/12 of a year, or 8.25%. The best way to show the difference between the months is to calculate how each month differs from 8.25%. The average variation was + or -0.27 percentage points in 2005, or from 7.98% to 8.52%. That’s very small. From 1992-2000, the average variation was + or -0.41 percentage points, or from 7.84% to 8.66%. That’s not even half of a percentage point, but the change shows that the months are becoming more alike.