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Data Analysis

Is the Positive Run for Commercial Printing Coming to a Close?

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: March 10, 2016


The latest printing shipments were discussed in the “Mondays with Dr. Joe” of March 7. The chart offers more details. Revenues turned around on a current dollar basis with June 2014 shipments (blue line) and the positive comparisons to the prior year kept going until the most recent report, January 2016. In current dollars, January’s shipments were barely above those of 2015, keeping the positive comparison streak intact.

The inflation-adjusted streak of positive comparisons started in August 2014 and ended with the December 2015 report. The positive pickup occurred at a time when the economy was slow and sluggish, so if that’s the conditions where print does well, 2016 should provide that kind of economic backdrop easily. The last time the industry had this kind of positive performance was in 1995, where it outpaced GDP growth by about double. This time, print exceeded GDP for the first time since 1995, and by a much lesser margin. The industry is different, and now has many creative and proactive executives in its ranks that have a richer appreciation for other communications media and have the experience in adapting to a very dynamic marketplace.


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