Behind the Growth Numbers
Data show a rebounding industry, but the real picture is more complex—and encouraging.
WHETHER AN INDUSTRY'S basic economic numbers look good or bad on the surface, it's usually necessary to look more deeply in order to understand what is really happening—and what those numbers mean for the industry's future.
That is the case today with the printing, publishing, and package-printing industry.
As several sources have pointed out, the industry in general has been rebounding from several very difficult years. Revenues are increasing across the board. Indeed, at the PRINT OUTLOOK® 05 conference in December, Printing Industries of America (PIA) Chief Economist Ronnie Davis said, "The current conditions represent the best print market I've seen in about five years."
Davis reported on growth of about 4.1 percent in total industry shipments during the first nine months of 2004. Bear in mind, inflation is almost totally absent from the printing industry; price pressure is one of the defining conditions of our business.
For the coming year, PIA predicted growth of 2 to 3 percent in overall shipments, along with a gain of roughly 2 percent in the category of labels, packaging, wrappers, and catalogs.
However, we must also note that so-called "ancillary services" make up a significant portion of printers' revenues today, and are growing quickly. Thus, even though a company's total revenues may be increasing, more of those revenues are coming from non-print sources like mailing and fulfillment, digital asset management, wide format imaging, and design services.
This interest in expanded services can be seen by the increased attention and resources being given to such areas as mailing and fulfillment services, wide format inkjet printing, and package printing and converting at the upcoming PRINT® 05 & CONVERTING 05 trade show. Wide format inkjet output options, for example, will have nearly 20,000 sq. ft. of space in 2005, as opposed to the 1,500 sq. ft. allocated in 2002.