Market Watch

Market Watch


NAPL Study Indicates Sustainable Turnaround

The Printing Business Index (PBI) of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), the association’s broadest measure of print activity, was 56.3 in July 2004. This marks the 13th consecutive month that the index has been above the critical 50.0 mark – the point at which more printers report activity is picking up than report activity is slowing down.

“The fact that the PBI has remained above 50.0 for more than a year is a strong indication that the developing turnaround is sustainable,” said Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL vice president and chief economist, noting that “immediately prior to these consecutive positive readings, the index had been below 50.0 for eight straight months. During the 32 months beginning in November 2000 – the approximate onset of the downturn – the PBI was below 50.0 for 27 of those months.”

The economic analysis comes from NAPL’s Printing Economic Research Center (PERC), which produces research and publications sponsored by Heidelberg, Kennesaw, GA.

The PBI combines input from NAPL’s Printing Business Panel about work-on-hand, current business conditions, expected business conditions, 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 that NAPL 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 more information contact NAPL, (201) 634-9600 or (800) 642-6275; fax: (201) 634-0324; e-mail:; web:

TWGA: Despite Rebound in Print Work, Sheetfed Offset Remains Flat

According to Trend Watch Graphic Arts’ (TWGA) August 2004 edition of Graphic Directions: Charting the Course of the Design and Production Community, as print volumes have rebounded, sheetfed offset work has not increased proportionately. 
According to the study, in the past year and a half, even as business conditions for printers have rebounded significantly from the doldrums of the recession, the percentage of commercial printers reporting that their sheetfed offset work – either 28-inch or 40-inch – has remained essentially flat.

According to the study, as print work rebounded in the past year and a half, it has come back from the void of the recession changed, with less emphasis on sheetfed work and more emphasis on shorter-run, often digitally printed jobs. Perhaps this is why, according to A.F. Lewis Information Services, the number of 20-1/2-inch-and-larger presses in the industry has dropped to a level not seen since before 1990.

TrendWatch Graphic Arts specializes in the assessment of trends and changes in graphic communications markets by providing timely and strategic information, market analysis and expert opinion. In each monthly issue, Creative Directions will concentrate on important issues in packaging design, variable-data printing/personalization, digital printing, magazine design and production and look at them in terms of historical trends, current market status, technology issues, business implications and long-term forecast. For more information, go to TWGA’s web site,, or call (866) 873-6310.