Industry sales declined 0.2% in the first quarter of 2013 as consistent growth remains elusive. Fewer than half the printers surveyed saw sales rise?the lowest reading since mid-2010.
Industry sales from all sources declined 0.2% in the first quarter of 2013, a disappointing drop following sales increases of 0.8%, 0.7%, and 0.6%, respectively, in the previous three quarters. The results were reported in the summer edition of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) Printing Research Center’s Printing Business Conditions report.
“The hope was that we were finally progressing from sporadic upturns in activity to the consistent growth that begins to restore pricing power and profitability, but we haven’t made much progress lately,” note report authors NAPL Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Andrew Paparozzi and Senior Economist Joseph Vincenzino.
“So far 2013 has been a disappointment,” they write. “We haven’t sustained even the modest gains made during the second half of 2012. Business is still maddeningly inconsistent, and the pressure on prices and profitability still hasn’t eased. Nothing suggests that we are turning back down,” they continue, “but nothing suggests that our climb back up will be getting easier.”
The report, part of the NAPL State of the Industry Series sponsored by KBA, is based on regular surveys of the Center’s State of the Industry Panel, comprising several hundred commercial and quick printers in North America. The most recent survey found that sales were down for 57.8%, far surpassing the 47% who experienced sales declines in the fourth quarter of 2012; only 42.2% of respondents increased sales in the first quarter of the year, down sharply from 53% the previous quarter and the lowest reading since summer 2010.
Of those whose sales decreased in the first quarter of 2013, more than two-thirds (41.4%) saw sales fall 5% or more and one-quarter (25.8%) experienced a sales decline of 10% or more. Of those whose sales rose, 26.6% enjoyed sales increases of 5% or more, and just 21.1% had sales growth of 10% or more.
The survey also found that prices were still at or below year-earlier levels for more than two-thirds (69.4%) of those surveyed, more than double the 30.6% who were able to increase prices at the beginning of the year. In addition, only 34.3% increased pre-tax profitability in April, down from 42.0% in January, and well below the 39.2% for whom profitability decreased.
“The disappointing start to 2013 hasn’t affected confidence, but it has heightened uncertainty,” write the report authors. “Nearly 29% (28.6%) of the participants in our research expect business to improve during the six months ahead, up from 27.3% in January, but nearly as many?26.5%, up from 18.2% at the start of 2013?say business is so erratic they don’t know what to expect.”
The Printing Business Conditions Report is distributed to NAPL members as a benefit of membership. The current issue also includes data on industry confidence, economic conditions and prospects for growth, and workforce issues, such as upgrading skills for new services.
For more information on NAPL’s State of the Industry research, call (800) 642-6275, Ext. 6303, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.