Semper International, the leading placement firm for skilled help in the graphic arts and printing industry, announces that in spite of profitability throughout the industry, many companies have a negative outlook for the rest of the quarter. Results of Semper’s most recent Industry Insight survey show a negative outlook and indecision about hiring plans.
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.
“The bad news coming out of Europe and Asia seems to be making waves here,” notes Dave Regan, CEO Semper International. “The sentiment in the industry is difficult to read. The majority of companies reported a profitable second quarter, but sales have dropped over the last two weeks. We’re looking for the typical sales cycle, where we see a big bump at the end of the third quarter, but people aren’t counting on it this year.”
The most recent survey indicates mixed business trends:
* 75% of companies surveyed reported a profitable Q2. This represents a 6-point increase over last quarter.
* Looking at the first two weeks of Q3, companies reporting an increase in current sales are down by 15 points. The number of companies reporting a decrease in sales is up 12 points over last quarter.
* 46% of companies expect sales to increase through the remainder of Q3, 2012 while 40% expect sales to stay the same. Last quarter nearly 53% expected a sales increase and only 33% expected sales to stay the same.
* The vast majority of respondents indicated that hiring levels will remain the same or increase. Of the companies who plan to hire, only 9.2% of them plan to replace staff this quarter.
* Just over half of companies reported that healthcare is the labor cost component that increased the fastest last quarter. Base pay, the next largest component, continues to increase steadily. Companies are taking steps to control costs, but healthcare has remained the fastest growing component of cost for the last 9 quarters.
* The greatest competitive threat to printers remains largely unchanged from last quarter. The current economy (52%) is the biggest threat, far exceeding lower cost competitors (18%) and emerging technology (10%).
* Print buyers place the greatest pricing pressure on ink to substrate printing (57%) than other graphic service.
* 79% say digital print has increased significantly or increased somewhat as a segment of their business over the last 5 years. 12% do not offer digital print services, at all.
* Referrals (38%) and online searches (36%) continue to be the most popular ways to find employees. These methods put pressure on traditional help wanted advertising, which continued its downward trend for the third quarter.