In a few weeks we will publish our annual State of the Industry Report. The report describes our industry’s performance as improved but still far from “takeoff speed,” or those consistently healthy gains that lift prices and margins. Among the key results:
- Sales have now increased three consecutive quarters, by an average of 2.4% per quarter, our strongest growth since 2007.
- At $79.4 billion sales are up 3.3%, from $76.8 billion, in 2011 but down 19.0%, from $97.9 billion, prior to the Great Recession.
- Prices are still at or below year-earlier levels for 60.7% of the companies we survey and pre-tax profitability is still at or below year-earlier levels for 53.7%. Where profitability is up, it’s most often because of something a company has done to increase revenue and decrease cost rather than moderated competition.
- Growth is expected to continue at current pace through 2015. Despite recent gains and record consolidation—over 5,000 establishments lost since 2007 and over 9,300 lost since 2000—demand for what we do is still running too far behind supply for growth to be much stronger.
Our report also includes the products and processes believed to have the most growth potential over the next three years, keys to print’s future, and keys to winning that future. Its “Ideas for Action” help answer a question every one of us should be asking: Since the industry isn’t going to get us to takeoff speed what are we doing to get ourselves there?