Editor's Note: Traffic Advisories

Each year in October I have the opportunity to connect with industry experts across the various market segments—manufacturers, industry consultants, association executives, franchise representatives, and print-service-providers—to get a better idea of how the market has been over the past 12 months and what lies in store for the upcoming year.

And I have to tell you, what I heard was not what I wanted to hear.

After all the news about the “End of the Recession,” I had hoped to hear that things were moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Instead, industry experts have said that it’s “better than 2008” and that things are moving forward very slowly, and probably slower than experts expected it to the same time last year.

Were people too optimistic in the 2009 Report? Probably not, given the fact that the economic indicators were positive. But what about now? When you start to look at some of those same indicators, like the Consumer Confidence Report, you see some interesting trends. In countries like Germany, Italy, and France, the news media is reporting an increase in consumer confidence and spending, while in the US, we’ve seen a drop in the same numbers. According to the Associated Press, consumer confidence in the US economy remains “quite grim,” as the group’s monthly gauge fell to 48.5 in September, the lowest reading since February. “September’s pullback in confidence was due to less favorable business and labor market conditions, coupled with a more pessimistic short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s consumer research center.

But what do those conflicting reports mean to our industry? Unfortunately, it means that there are still difficulties and challenges ahead. While some areas have seen improvement, there have been some segments of the market that are still facing much adversity. In this issue, we examine the current state of the industry, how things have changed since 2009’s report, and what are some of the remaining big issues PSPs and manufacturers have yet to overcome. In our November/December issue, we’ll gaze into our “crystal ball” to look at the next 12 months and where the growth opportunities for the market can be found.

In the meantime, make sure to stop by and see us at SGIA in Booth #138. And if you’re headed to the IFAI Expo in Orlando at the end of the month, I’ll be there as well, checking things out on the textile and fabric side of the market. Safe travels to those heading out to

Las Vegas and Orlando.