COVID-19 Print Business Indicators Research Shows Industry Improvement
To help printing companies navigate through the current crisis to the recovery on the other side, NAPCO Research and the PRINTING United Alliance have launched COVID-19 Print Business Indicators Research. This is the third in a series of reports that examines the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the printing industry, how printers are responding to the crisis, and how they can create a path forward. This survey tracks key indicators across a cross section of printing companies, including commercial printers, graphic and sign producers, apparel decorators, functional printers, and package printers/converters. Click here to download an Executive Summary of the report.
Printing United Alliance members can download the full report here: https://www.sgia.org/resources/research/covid19-print-business-indicators
And PIA members here: https://www.printing.org/covid-19-resources/covid-19-print-business-indicators
This article focuses on key findings from all printers participating in the third survey. Our fourth survey will soon be in the field and open for any package printer/converter to participate. Please stay vigilant for the link to take the 3-5 minute survey
Index of Both Current and Leading Indicators for All Printers Continues to Rise
The index of current indicators, which tracks trends in sales, production, employment, prices and pre-tax profitability has steadily grown through each of the survey periods. The index has grown nearly 30 points since the deepest part of the recession and now sits just under 50 at 46.7. A reading over 50 indicates that more printers report that business is picking up from current levels than slowing down, but while we are not quite there yet, the index of leading indicators leads us to believe that more companies will continue to report upward trends in the near future. With a reading over 50 (53.6), the index of leading indicators suggests that activity will be picking up compared to current levels soon. This index tracks work-on-hand, quote activity, payroll production hours and confidence.
While many printers are still struggling, vast improvement in both indexes since March/April show that things are certainly headed in the right direction. If this trend continues, we can expect the index of current indicators to measure over 50 for the first time in the next iteration of this research.
Sales Are Still Declining but At Much Less Drastic Rate
Respondents in the COVID-19 Print Business Indicators Research have been asked to give their change in sales over the last 30 days for each of the survey periods. Although sales are still declining, the rate at which they are falling has dramatically improved since initial shutdowns took place in the March/April period. Firms were indicating that sales fell by an average of 53.7% during the first survey period and that number has improved to only -4.7% in the July/August period. As this number approaches zero and both indexes continue to improve, it may be sooner rather than later that we see sales for the last 30 days cross the line into the positive range.
Outlook for Package Printers
While there was not enough data to report on segment data for packaging printers/converters, some respondents indicated that they see rising demand for certain products. In particular, packaging for food and pharmaceuticals were seen as potential growth areas. When asked about business opportunities post-COVID, a few packaging printers noted these areas:
- “Given the changes to people's dining habits, we believe that retail food packaging will continue to grow with the closing of many restaurants and more people eating at home.”
- “Strong need for flexible packaging particularly in food packaging and nutraceuticals.”
- “Food & medical business up. Great chance to solidify relationships.”
The July 2020 issue of this report indicated that the packaging segment was the best performing segment as it had faced the lowest average change in sales lost. This will likely continue as we move forward since many of these printers create products for those who have seen an increase in demand.
The General and Panel COVID-19 Print Business Indicators Report
The full version of the report digs deeper into all of the data mentioned above plus much more!
The report includes sections on:
- Previous 30 days sales numbers
- 2019 vs. 2020 first half sales for the industry and segments
- Index Data including trends for sales, production, employment, prices, profitability, quote activity, work-on-hand, payroll production hours and confidence
- Revenues lost from client closures
- COVID-Related sales figures
- Total employment change since the beginning of 2020
- Market shifts following COVID
- How companies are planning beyond COVID-19
- The outlook of the economy in 2020 and into 2021
- Must-dos for printers and how to execute (Panel Edition)
- Merger and Acquisition insight (Panel Edition)
Participate in the COVID-19 Print Business Indicators Research
In today’s unprecedented business environment, making decisions based on facts has never been more important. In the weeks and months ahead, reliable industry business indicators will be essential for monitoring what’s happening in all printing industry segments. The COVID-19 Print Business Indicators Research is an essential resource for monitoring industry conditions and the NAPCO and PRINTING United Alliance research teams invite you to join our business panel and contribute to the research on an ongoing basis. Companies that join the panel will receive an exclusive version of the report that includes additional data and analysis. To join the Covid-19 research panel, please click here.
ABOUT NAPCO RESEARCH
The combined NAPCO and PRINTING United Alliance research teams develop research and economic models that solve customer business problems. Market research is valuable for making strategic business decisions, solving challenges, and pursuing opportunities and the NAPCO Media research teams survey, analyze, and monitor critical trends related to marketing, printing, packaging, non-profit organizations, promotional products, and retailing. To learn more about how the team can leverage its research and industry subject matter experts to support your organization's needs contact NAPCO’s Vice President of Research, Nathan Safran, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.