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October 2021 printing shipments came in at $7.23 billion, up from September’s $6.99 billion. This is the third month in a row in which shipments increased. Year to date, January-to-October shipments are $68.21 billion, a bit off 2020’s January-to-September number of $69.03.

This year’s shipments had been coiling around last year’s, although the last two months have come in below 2020. October is traditionally the best month of the year, although this year it is exactly tied with March. We have to admit, on the COVID front, we are not bullish on this winter. Cases have been rising since the end of October, with a daily average of more than 10,000, a level we haven’t seen since March. Hospitalizations and deaths are also up, and with the holidays coming up, there is little doubt that there will be a surge in January.

In most places, business has returned to normal (for better or worse, and in some places with mask mandates), and the economy is generally doing fairly well, inflation notwithstanding.

Year to date, January-to-October shipments are $68.21 billion, a bit off 2020’s January-to-October number of $69.03. Some milestones to keep in mind as we head toward the end of the year: we reported back in February that 2020 had been an $84.07 billion year, down from $87.65 billion in 2019 (these are based on old inflation adjustments and recent CPI figures are making historical comparisons a bit of a challenge). Still, unless November and December are record-breakingly higher than expected, 2021 will come in slightly below 2020.