Growth Expected to Resume in 2012

By Andrew Paparozzi
In February 22, 2012

Our industry is expected to begin growing again this year; the first increase since 2007. But the recovery is expected to remain inconsistent, and it certainly won’t guarantee anything to anyone. The new norm: In our increasingly competitive, complex business we either prepare for recovery or get left behind.

Regardless of developing circumstances, it is important to keep things in perspective. Recent results for the NAPL Printing Business Panel show how far we’ve come from the depths of the Great Recession and how far we have to go to match the previous peak. Almost three-fifths (56.0%) of our Panel report sales increased during the second half of 2011. This is up sharply from just 15.8% during the same period two years earlier. But despite the gains, sales are still down at least 10.0% from pre-recession levels for 62.2% of our survey group and at least 20.0% for 41.3%.

As the table below shows, we expect our industry sales (from all sources, not just print) to grow 1.0%–3.0% in 2012, maybe a little more if prices firm and the economy surprises to the upside. The latest consensus forecast from Blue Chip Economic Indicators has inflation-adjusted GDP rising 2.2% this year, up from 1.7% in 2011. Nonetheless, even if growth in industry sales finishes at the top of the range, sales would still be close to 19.0% below pre-recession levels and almost 21.0% below the all-time high reached in 2000.

Commercial Printing Industry Sales

Sales (all sources, not just print) in billions. All figures are NAPL estimates/projections.




% Change Since:


% Change






(all-time peak)


1.0% – 3.0%





























As mentioned, the recovery does not come with any guarantees. A good way to begin preparing: Get our key people together and ask, What are we doing to make 2012 better than 2011? For a discussion of the initiatives companies we survey are taking, see the soon to be released NAPL Printing Business Conditions: February 2012.

Andrew Paparozzi

Epicomm's Andrew Paparozzi, Vice President/Chief Economist, is well-known for his accurate and thoughtful discussions on the economy and US commercial printing industry. A foremost author and speaker on economic business trends in the printing industry, Paparozzi heads Epicomm's Printing Economic Research Center.

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