NAPL (National Association for Print Leadership)

Quick and Small Commercial Printers Trends Report

Nearly 70% of the quick and small commercial printers surveyed expect sales to grow in 2011, while only 7% expected them to decrease, according to the just released  inaugural issue of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) Quick and Small Commercial Printers Trends Report.

The new report, which is sponsored by Xerox, also revealed that more than half (55.3%) of those surveyed had enjoyed sales growth last year—with sales up at least 10% for 26.3% and at least 5% for 42.1%—although there was a wide gulf between the top 20%, for whom sales grew 11.4%, and the bottom 20%, who saw sales decline 7.1%. Eighty-seven percent of those surveyed were independents; 13%, franchise owners.

“Companies that are growing are creating their own growth, not growing with the market,” note report authors Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, and Joseph Vincenzino, Senior Economist. “They recognize that there is plenty of opportunity—just not in the same old places or by doing the same old things.”

According to the report, the optimism over sales was being tempered by concern over a number of issues, most notably the still shaky economy and rising costs—while nearly 61% of those surveyed expect sales to increase over the next six months, almost 46% also expect to have to raise prices during that period. Inconsistent sales—up one month; down the next—was a major issue for some respondents, while others pointed to increasing costs for consumables and business expenses.

“The most frequently cited issue, by a wide margin, was an inconsistent, weak recovery that is not generating enough sales growth,” note Paparozzi and Vincenzino. “Cost inflation, including the rising costs of doing business—increases for healthcare, taxes, and expenses related to new government regulations—is also of great concern.”

The new report found that quick and small commercial printers have taken a number of steps to improve profitability in a tough economic environment. More than half reduced staff (50.7%) and trimmed payroll hours (57.7%) last year. Cuts in payroll (down 3.2%) and overhead (down 5.5%) helped reduce total costs 1.8%. As a result, total costs fell, on average, from 93.6% of sales in 2009 to 90.4% of sales in 2010.

“Through this new report we are doing something that has not been done in the industry before—tracking the vital metrics of the smaller printer,” says Paparozzi. “The importance of this research is apparent when you consider that approximately 85% of the nearly 28,000 establishments in our industry have annual sales of $3 million or less.” Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed for the first issue of the Quick and Small Commercial Printers Trends Report had sales of $1 million-$3 million; 50% had sales below $1 million.

The March report also provides data on owner compensation and key indicators—e.g., sales per employee, sales per payroll hour, and receivables collection, as well as employment and payroll hours expectations, biggest service opportunities, and steps companies are taking in response to key issues they face.

The quarterly NAPL Quick and Small Commercial Printers Trends Report, to be issued electronically to NAPL corporate members in March, June, September, and December 2011, will provide updates on the performance, expectations, and defining issues of this important industry segment. For more information, contact Vincenzino at (800) 642-6275, Ext. 6303, or jvincenzino@napl.org.

Learn more about NAPL Research Center economic studies and analysis by following the NAPL BizTrends blog (www.naplbiztrends.org) and the NAPL State of the Industry and Performance Indicators blogs (www.napl.org/blogs).

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