Graphic and Sign Producers Had a Rough 2020, but Research Points to Growth in 2021
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 graphic and sign producers, as well as all printers participating in the fifth survey.
Graphic and Sign Producers’ 2020 Sales Numbers Adversely Affected By COVID-Related Issues
Those who produce signs and graphics were asked to disclose their sales numbers for both 2019 and 2020 so that we can get a better understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the industry. Nearly a quarter (23.9%) of respondents saw their sales increase when compared to 2019, while 71.7% reported lower sales year-over-year. The other 4.3% managed to maintain steady sales levels over these two time periods. Printers who saw increases likely pivoted to producing COVID-related products or serve markets that saw demand increases because of the pandemic. COVID-related signage and floor graphics saw boosts in demand which could account for a portion of these sales for the firms that managed to boost their revenue.
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.
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 unprecedent 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.
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.