For Those in Package Printing, Growth Can Be Expected Throughout 2021 and Beyond
To help printing companies navigate through the current crisis to the recovery on the other side, NAPCO Research and PRINTING United Alliance launched COVID-19 Print Business Indicators Research. This is the fifth 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. Download the in-depth executive summary to understand the current status of the printing industry.
This article focuses on key findings from all printers participating in the fifth survey.
Many Expect Growth for Package Printers and Converters
In the latest research, we asked respondents which printed products they expect to grow over the next one to two years. According to these respondents, they expect plenty of growth in the packaging/converting segment. The economic boom ahead will create trillions of dollars of products that have to be packaged, explaining why 69.6% of our survey group expect growth in flexible packaging, 68.3% in folding cartons, and 57.1% in corrugated packaging over the next 12 to 24 months.
According to the Index of Leading Indicators, Growth is Ahead
The index of leading indicators encompasses trends in quote activity, work on hand, quote activity, production payroll hours, and confidence in order to gauge whether business activity will be increasing or decreasing. A reading over 50.0 indicates that more of the companies surveyed report activity will be increasing, while a reading below 50.0 signals the opposite. The latest reading increased sharply from the last version of this research as the index rose to 61.9 — up from 53.1 at the end of 2020. The index has been driven up mainly by more companies reporting higher quote activity and more confidence. In the November/December, only 33.9% of printers reported upward trends in quote activity, while just under half, 49.8% said that this was the case throughout the first quarter. Our confidence reading saw the same kind of movement. In the previous report, 30.7% of printers were feeling more confident about the business environment while the number jumped to 59.8% in the latest report. The most recent readings for quote activity and growth are the highest since the start of the pandemic. Moving forward, these leading indicators will likely translate to sharp increases for the current indicators which track sales, employment, production, prices, and pre-tax profitability. The final reading for this index came in at 56.1 — also the highest since the start of the pandemic.
Contraction Continued in the First Quarter
We asked our research group how they expected their first-quarter 2021 sales to compare with first-quarter 2020 sales. Nearly 58.0% expect sales to be lower than a year ago — 52.7% by at least 10.0%, 38.6% by at least 20.0%, and 21.3% by at least 30.0% — while 27.3% expect sales to be higher, 11.0% the same, and 4.2% say business is still so uncertain they don’t know what to expect. The average expected change: -10.7%.
Those numbers are not surprising because they compare pandemic results with pre-pandemic results. Remember, the lockdowns and other disruptions of COVID-19 didn’t begin until mid-March 2020. Prior to that, the year was going well economically.
Want More Printing Industry Trends and Projections?
The full version of the report digs deeper into the data mentioned above plus much more!
The report includes sections on:
- Product market trends for each segment
- 2019 vs. 2020 sales numbers for each segment
- Index data including trends for sales, production, employment, prices, profitability, quote activity, work-on-hand, payroll production hours, and confidence.
- How 2021 first quarter sales compare to the same period in 2020.
- Convergence – Printers working in a segment other than their primary segment
- The greatest challenges faced by printers throughout the pandemic and which of these challenges will last into the recovery.
- Industry Producer Price Indexes (PPI)
- Industry employment change from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021
- Production employee change during the first quarter of 2021
- An introduction to the Print Market Atlas – a snapshot of the establishment, employment and payroll numbers for the U.S. and regionally
Printing United Alliance members can download a full version of the report here.
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 organizations needs contact NAPCO’s Vice President of Research, Nathan Safran, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Wilaj reports on economic and industry trends which aim to help printers navigate an ever-changing business environment
He joins the Printing United Alliance research team after beginning his career at Printing Industries of America where he analyzed, reported and spoke on key trends in commercial print and aided in the revitalization of the historic Performance Ratios program.