NAPL Says Sustained Recovery Eluding Printing Industry

PARAMUS, NJ, USA—Key printing indicators, including work on-hand, confidence, and the Printing Business Index, increased in August, reversing particularly weak performance in the two months before, says a recent release by NAPL (National Association for Printing Leadership). "However," notes the group, "rather than signaling the beginning of a steady recovery, [we] forecast the up-tick is something printers have seen before—business picks up for a little while, then quickly turns down again." NAPL says the indexes are tracked by its Economics Research Center (PERC), which produces research and publications sponsored by Heidelberg, Kennesaw, GA.

"It's all part of a frustratingly slow recovery from a deep, industry-wide recession," says Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL VP and chief economist. NAPL forecasts printing sales will decline approximately two percent this year, which is less than last year's four-percent decline, but marking the first time in nearly three decades that industry sales have declined two years in a row.

"Next year, "NAPL forecasts, "will bring increases once again, but the association adjusted its orginal estimate of a 7.5 percent sales increase in 2003 to 6.5 percent." Adds Paparozzi, "the industry will be boosted by an economy that avoids double-dip recession, but recovery is still going to be even more muted and sporadic than we thought."

The NAPL Printing Business Index
Printing Business Index, the association's most comprehensive measure of print activity, rose to 51.2 in August 2002. That's 28.3 percent above where it opened this year and the first reading since April above the critical 50.0 mark—the point at which more printers report business is picking up than report business is slowing down. Whether the upturn will be sustainable remains to be seen, but NAPL forecasts a sporadic and slow, rather than a steady, recovery.

Visit NAPL at napl.org.



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