Semper International, the leading placement firm for skilled help in the graphic arts and printing industry, announces that the printing industry may finally be returning to typical sales trends. The expected second quarter revenue dip was reminiscent of the drop previously experienced before the 2008 recession. Stagnant hiring and an upward trend in layoffs suggest entrenched pessimism in the marketplace.
Since February 2003, Semper International has provided a quarterly survey offering estimates of trends in the printing and graphics industries. To prevent bias, survey questions—both qualitative and quantitative—are designed by Semper corporate partner Cvent. Survey participants include more than 300 small, medium and large printing companies; both clients and prospects of Semper International. Participants provide data on revenue and hiring as well as estimated outlooks on future trends. Data is requested from a random sample and are not screened. To preserve confidentiality, individual company information is not part of the tabulation.
“Responses show concern for the rest of the third quarter. We expected to see the sales start to increase for this time period. Several respondents cited the debt ceiling debate as a threat to sales.” notes Dave Regan, CEO Semper International. “While outlooks remain negative, the slow down in revenue and profits appears to be comparable to the second quarter lag we typically saw before the recession.”
The most recent survey indicates more negative business trends:
- 62% of companies surveyed reported a profitable Q2. This represents a decrease of 2 percentage points from Q1.
- Looking at the first two weeks of Q3, current sales are down 8% over last quarter, likely an indication of the traditional Q2 slow-down. The number of companies reporting a decrease in sales is up nearly 12 percentage points.
- 20% of the companies interviewed expected sales to decrease thru the remainder of Q3, 2011. Last quarter only 11% expected a sales decrease.
- The vast majority of respondents indicated that hiring levels will remain the same, or increase. These results were nearly identical to last quarter. The number of companies laying off employees has been trending upward very slightly over the last year.
- For the sixth straight quarter, a large majority of companies reported that healthcare is the labor cost component that increased the fastest during the past quarter. Although healthcare remains a concern, it is decreasing in importance; concerns over healthcare costs are down 10 percentage points over last quarter.
- The greatest competitive threat to printers remains the current economic climate. Concerns over the state of the economy increased by 17 percentage points over last quarter.
- Print buyers place the greatest pricing pressure on offset printing. For the first time this quarter we see an increase in pricing pressure on digital print.
- There was a surprising 5 percentage point increase in traditional help wanted ads as a way to find employees. Referrals (33%) and online searches (27%) continue to be the most popular ways to find employees.
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