Epicomm Sees the Economy and the Industry Both Continuing to Advance Slowly in 2016

By Epicomm
In April 23, 2016

Association Chief Economist Andrew Paparozzi says commercial printing growth slowed in 2015, but still posted its fourth consecutive annual gain. 

Alexandria, Va. (April 22, 2016)―Despite suggestions earlier in the year that another recession might be possible, Epicomm Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Andrew Paparozzi says “Epicomm believes both the economy and our industry will continue to advance slowly in 2016.” Epicomm is the Association for Leaders in Print, Mail, Fulfillment, and Marketing Services.

Writing in the Spring 2016 issue of the State of the Industry Update newsletter in the mail to Epicomm members this week, Paparozzi reports that commercial printing segment sales from all sources increased 1.8% in 2015, down from the 2.4% pace of 2014, but marking the industry’s fourth consecutive annual gain. Last year’s sales of $81.7 billion were up 6.1% from the 2011 low of $77 billion—although still well below the $98.3 billion in sales recorded in 2007.

“As usual, individual company results vary dramatically,” notes Paparozzi, “but more than half (54.9%) of our survey respondents report sales increased last year, while 43.4% report sales decreased. Descriptions of current business conditions range from ‘soft’ to ‘awesome,’ reflecting the diversity of our research group’s experience.”

Overall, he writes, “the consensus is captured by descriptions such as ‘marginally improved over last year,’ ‘on par with 2015,’ ‘not terrible,’ and ‘nothing really exciting.’ The word used most often: ‘steady.’”

In the four-page Update, part of the State of the Industry Series sponsored by Canon, Paparozzi points out that more than half (55.6%) of those participating in the survey expect industry business conditions to be about the same in 2016 as they were last year, while just 11.1% expect them to be stronger and 7.4% expect them to weaken. About one-fourth (25.9%) of respondents were not sure or too uncertain to predict the direction of conditions this year.

“Epicomm’s take on 2016 is that the economy will continue to muddle along at a 2.0%-2.5% pace and total commercial printing segment sales from all sources will increase 1.5%-2.5%,” says Paparozzi. “That would be print’s fifth consecutive year of growth and another step toward recovery—but it isn’t going to solve anyone’s problems.”

The Spring 2016 State of the Industry Update also includes a report on areas survey companies say they would most like to improve in 2016. “Marketing and distinguishing their company and brand” was cited most frequently—by more than half of respondents—followed by a wide variety of areas, more than two dozen in all, including improving productivity, improving skills and motivation of sales personnel, and capturing a bigger share of clients’ business.

“The diversity of items on this list reminds us that we have to keep a sharp eye on every part of our business,” says Paparozzi, “and the list as a whole reminds us that no matter how well we’re doing—and many participants in Epicomm’s research are doing very well—we can never assume that we have it all figured out.”

The State of the Industry Update newsletter, issued three times a year, and the annual comprehensive State of the Industry Report are provided as a member benefit to all Epicomm Level II and Level II+ members, as well as all associate and educational members.

Epicomm’s team of business advisors and menu of products and services provide research and trends analysis, management insight and guidance, education, networking, advocacy, and specialized consulting services for leading companies across the broad industry spectrum, encompassing printing, mailing, fulfillment, and a wide variety of marketing services.

For information on Epicomm economic and trends reports, contact Andrew Paparozzi at (201) 523-6353 orapaparozzi@epicomm.org. For information on Epicomm membership and member benefits, contact Donna Komlo at (201) 523-6345 or dkomlo@epicomm.org.

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