ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA (August 27, 2001) – Despite lagging economic growth throughout 2000 and much of 2001, the Printing Industries of America (PIA), Incorporated, is predicting continued increases in the U.S. graphic arts industry sales entering the new year after analyzing recent market trends.
"With economic growth at its lowest point in eight years, it may seem difficult to exude optimism about the next 12-18 months," writes PIA’s chief economist, Dr. Ron Davis. "However, there are solid arguments that the 2002 North American economy will rebound from the current slump."
Davis points out that even though the U.S. economy experienced lackluster performance throughout 2000 and 2001, the overall economy did not witness a recession like in 1990-’91. In Outlook for the Economy and Print Markets: What Lies Ahead for the Remainder of 2001 and 2002?, Davis writes "So far the economy is just in a slowdown and not a recession because total economic output isn’t declining. The manufacturing economy—as measured by industry production--is in recession with output falling over the last few months. This ‘sideways’ economy has been kept out of recession territory by consumer spending, residential construction, and state and local government expenditures."
For the remainder of 2001, PIA is predicting slight economic growth of under 2 percent when adjusted for inflation. In 2002, it is predicted the U.S. economy will grow 3 percent, and the economies of Canada and Mexico will beat that rate, with growth rates of 3.2 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.
These favorable economic conditions translate into resurgence for the graphic arts industry. "Printers’ sales will recover from the current slump very slowly over the remainder of the year, but they should show some much-needed improvement," writes Davis. "Look for some recovery in the third and fourth quarters with sales ending up around 1.5 to 2 percent for the year. While this will be the slowest pace in printers’ shipments in over a decade it still translates to some $2 to $3 billion in new sales. For 2002 the outlook is somewhat brighter but with growth still slightly below the trend of the late ‘90s."
PIA research further predicts print market segments growth in 2002 for the following categories: direct marketing, magazines/periodicals, catalogs, general commercial and quick printing, books, packaging, and directories.
The slowdown the U.S. economy confronts was predicted in PIA’s landmark study Vision 21: The Printing Industry Redefined for the 21st Century. The study also predicted a turnaround in the graphic arts industry performance in late 2001, and into 2002.
In summary, Davis writes, "Look for the printing industry to continue it’s gradual restructuring in 2002. Although the pace of mergers and acquisitions will continue to cool, they will still take place at a more modest rate focused on strategic positioning and operational efficiencies."
Davis further predicted the number of printing plants to continue its downward spiral. Since 1993, the total number plants decreased 12 percent. This figure is expected to fall below 47,000 in coming years.
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