Slow Recovery Continues as Print Sales Grow for Second Consecutive Month
Despite some steep declines in key printing industry indicators, there are signs that the long-awaited economic recovery is making steady—if excruciatingly slow—progress, according to the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL.)
Sales rose 3 percent in October and 4.1 percent in September, according to the Printing Business Panel of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL). Sales had declined for 15 consecutive months prior to the September and October jumps, and hadn’t increased two consecutive months in nearly two years. The economic analysis comes from NAPL’s Printing Economics Research Center (PERC), which produces research and publications sponsored by Kennesaw, GA-based Heidelberg.
“Business is clearly improving,” said Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL vice president and chief economist. However, Mr. Paparozzi noted that “recent sales gains owe much to the fact that figures are being compared to year-earlier results, when we had deeply depressed, post-September 11 results.”
The NAPL Printing Business Index, the Association’s most comprehensive measure of print activity, slipped to 49.4 percent in November from 52.7 percent in October and 54.1 percent in September. Several components of the index declined, including work-on-hand, up in November for just 14.7 percent of the printers surveyed by NAPL and down for 30.4 percent.
Despite this bad news, overall trends are pointing upward, according to NAPL. “What’s important is the trend, not the blip,” said Mr. Paparozzi. Prior to the November decrease, the PBI had been above the 50.0 mark —the point at which more printers report activity is picking up than report activity is slowing down—for three consecutive months.
“Moreover, our index is still up 23.7 percent since January 2002 and 34.8 percent since last November,” said Mr. Paparozzi. “It’s hardly boom to bust, but combined with the rising sales performance, that’s progress. Barring a setback in the war on terrorism, the progress will continue throughout 2003.”
The NAPL Printing Business Index
The NAPL PBI combines input from the Association’s Printing Business Panel about work-on-hand, current business conditions, expected business conditions (confidence), hiring plans, profitability and other key indicators into a single measure of activity. The NAPL Printing Business Panel is a representative group of more than 300 printers which the Association surveys monthly on a range of key printing issues. Since the same companies are surveyed every time, data are strictly comparable from period to period.
For further information on NAPL’s Printing Economics Research Center, its economic research programs, or its indicators, contact Mr. Paparozzi at apaparozzi@ napl.org, or the National Association for Printing Leadership, 75 West Century Road. Paramus, NJ 07652-1408; (201) 634-9600 or (800) 642-6275; fax: (201) 634-0324; web: www.napl.org.