NPRC Releases Survey on Typesetting Charges

Published Dec. 15, 2021

NPRC Mini-Survey Explores Typesetting
Charges and Key Industry Productivity

By John Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC

Once again, we would sincerely like to thank the owners of 123 printing firms who took the time to complete our most recent survey. Without their support and prompt participation, detailed surveys such as this would simply not be possible. Thank you very much.

NPRC is proud to present the results of its latest mini-survey. The survey was launched on Friday, Dec. 10th and Closed end of the day on Dec. 14th. While the survey data presented below is based upon 123 firms, additional responses continued to come in after the formal deadlines.  This survey covered pricing practices for basic graphic and design services in the printing industry. Below are the questions and the corresponding answers based upon our data.

#1 – Do Most Firms Impose a Minimum Typesetting Charge? Approximately 75% of our survey respondents indicated their firm “strictly” imposes or enforces a minimum typesetting charge, regardless of how small the task might be, while another 15% said they did not.

“Minimum Typesetting charge?
We say we do… but often not enforced.”

An additional 10% checked “Other” and we think their answers, although representing only 10% of those surveyed, was closer to the truth than many participants would acknowledge. Some of the comments we received included:

  • “$15 min. charge, usually waived for regular or non-abusive customers, applied to those who are abusive…”
  • “Yes, with a handful of exceptions.”
  • “We are supposed to, but many times do not.”
  • “If it takes less than about 5 minutes then no we don’t charge, say a name change on a business card.”
  • “We do about 90% of the time”
  • “Depends on the client …”
  • “We say we do… but often not enforced.”

Based upon our experiences over the years in tracking general productivity in this department, we suspect there are many owners who upon more serious reflection, would agree with one or more of the sentiments expressed above. The bottom line is we are failing miserably in tracking productivity.

To read the rest of this special report, click on the following link:

MINI-SRV-3-FINAL.pdf (printingresearch.org)

 

Population Plays Minimal Role in Pricing

Published Nov. 15, 2021

Pricing Practices for #10/24 1-S Envelopes
Varies Little When Based Upon Population

By John Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC

Once again, before we begin our formal report on the results of our latest survey, we would like to thank the owners of 115 printing firms who took the time to complete our most recent survey. Without their support and participation, detailed surveys such as this would simply not be possible. The data below is provided absolutely free to the industry in hopes of encouraging greater participation and appreciation for the contributions made by NPRC to this industry.

 NPRC has just released the results of its latest mini-survey dealing with the pricing of 1-C and 4-C envelopes. The survey was launched on Nov. 9, 2021 and closed on Nov. 11th and attracted 115 participants. The survey covered pricing practices for producing digital and offset #10/24 Envelopes.

This survey tackled pricing two quantities of envelopes, 500 and 1,000, for #10/24 regular envelopes, 1-S, printed in black and/or 4C. An additional breakdown for pricing asked for pricing for “digital” vs. “offset” printing. Below is listed both average and median pricing for these four breakouts.

An ancillary question for pricing envelopes regarded the preferred method used to produce these envelopes. When it comes to producing envelopes in black ink/toner, 61.2% of respondents indicated they would produce these envelopes digitally, while 38.8% said they would be produced via offset.

However, when it comes to producing 4C envelopes, 96% of all respondents indicated they would rely on digital devices, while only 4% said they would rely on offset. Consequently, the vast percentage of pricing reported below (at least as it applies to 4C envelopes, represents prices for digital production. In fact, approximately 33% of our respondents told us they no longer have offset presses in their operation.

“Approximately 33% of our respondents told us they no longer have offset presses in their operation.”

Requested delivery time? Our mini-survey also asked participants if the customer placed the order “on a Monday, and would like to pick up the envelopes on Thursday mid-day, how
would they characterize this delivery request?”

Provided with four choices, this is how our or respondents answered:

  • We would easily be able to delivery this job as requested… 75.8% (86)
  • Would be tight, but doable… 21.% (24)
  • Delivery job under this time-frame would be a significant challenge… 1.8% (2)
  • We would have to charge an additional fee to meet this schedule… 1.8% (2)

Population Density Extractions

One new extraction we used for this analysis is the ability to analyze envelope pricing based upon population densities. We’ve often argued, contrary to popular opinion expressed by many printers, that pricing varies far more within individual markets than it does when comparing pricing from one market to the next, especially when analyzing markets based upon population density.

Often overheard statements such as, “I could never charge those prices in my market area” or “large markets can always charge more (or less) than I can get in my market” are common in our industry. So too is the classic argument, “My market is different.” The latter is often heard in any discussion about pricing.

We have argued over the years that there are far more similarities in pricing than there are difference between one market and the next, even when the discussions raise the topic of population density. Our basic argument has always been that the greatest variations in pricing are found within individual markets, and not from one market to the next.

We have consistently found that prices for specific products (such as 1M #10/24, 1-S, 4C envelopes) can often vary by as much as 30-40% within individual markets such as Stow, OH, or Lake Mary, FL. However, the average (or median) price for these products rarely varies by more than 10% when comparing one market to the next. Another way of saying this, is that you are likely to see far more variations in envelope pricing within markets such as Stow, OH or Lake Mary, FL than you are from one market to the next.

The opinions noted above are based on 30+ years of consulting, as well as assisting dozens and dozens of printing firms conduct their own locally based pricing surveys.

Thanks to a recently discovered Excel tool, we are now able to extract the population of virtually every town or city listed by our participants and analyze their pricing based upon that population. For the purposes of this analysis, we were able to extract the population basis for almost all of our 118 participants.

Next, we ranked the populations extracted from low to high, and then we divided our list into four approximate quartiles: 

Market Size Population Range Count
Rural 1,000-19,000 29
Small 20,000-69,999 28
Medium 70,000-199,999 28
Major 200,000-10 Million 23

With our new population tool in hand, we were able to analyze and extract average and median pricing for both black and 4C envelopes for each of four distinct population breakouts.  Below are two tables. The first one analyzes pricing for black ink for #10/24 envelopes for All firms, as well as those falling into each of our four population classifications.

The second table provides the same pricing but for 4C #10/24 envelopes. Generally speaking, notice how relatively little the average and median prices vary among the four markets noted.

#10/24 Blk Envelope Pricing

#10/24 4C Envelope Pricing

Despite vast differences in population size, note how relatively little pricing (both average & median) varies from one breakout to the next. Although sample size for each breakout is relatively small, we can assure you that even if we had 200+ firms for each population category, we would still have found only modest if any differences in pricing.

The graph below illustrates average and median pricing for 500 4C envelopes.

This graph illustrates average and median pricing for 1M 4C envelopes.

Conclusion – If you participated in our survey we want to express our appreciation. If you did not, we would like to encourage you (especially if you are a member of NPRC Listserv) to participate next time. We try not to overburden you with surveys, and our goal is to keep these surveys to no more than 5-6 questions on a very specific subject, whether it be pricing or more general in nature.

If you have any suggestions for a future mini-survey please sent us an email at: [email protected].

Sincerely,
John Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC
Melbourne, FL 32904

Industry Pricing for 3-P Carbonless Forms

Thanks to those printers who participated in our special 3-day mini-survey for pricing for 3-part carbonless forms. A total of 68 firms (after eliminating two outliers) submitted their surveys by the Wednesday midnight deadline.

SEE END OF ARTICLE FOR NEW CHARTS & DATA added 11/5/21 at 12:30 P.M.

Below is a summary of our data. See histograms at the end of this email. Specifications asked prices for 3-P carbonless, 1-S, 8.5 x 11″, padded, black ink or toner. The survey also asked for any additional charge for number these forms. See data below.

3-P CARBONLESS PRINTING*
* The prices below are within 5-7% of those reported in the most recent 2021 NPRC Digital Pricing Survey

                               500-3-P Forms         1M 3-P Forms

Average Price               $214.92                        $369.63
Median Price                $208.99                       $345.17

High Price                    $380.00                       $675.00
Low Price                     $134.05                         $205.00

78.3% of respondents indicated these forms would be produced digitally, while 21.7% said they would produce using offset.

ADDITIONAL NUMBERING CHARGES*
* We plant conduct some additional sorts in the next couple of days to determine the average and median price for numbering for jobs produced digitally vs. those produced via offset.

                                 # Chg 500 3-P      # Chg 1M 3-P

Average Price                $36.50                     $50.95
Median Price                $35.00                     $51.00

High Price                    $72.00                      $95.00
Low Price                     $15.00                      $15.00

Approximately 84% of respondents said that the job could easily be produced and ready with the requested parameters – brought in Monday AM with a requested delivery for Thursday AM. The remaining 16% said they though the delivery schedule would be tight but doable.

Histograms, especially those prepared within Excel, are not the easiest or most intuitive to read and understand. The percent above each bar represents the number of respondents who provided and answer falling between the prior bar/price and up to but not including the current price or range. Both graphs (excluding the “more” in the second graph) come very close to depicting a general or standard deviation chart with approximately 68% of all responses falling within +/- one standard deviation of the average.

We will be posting much of this email on the NPRC site and we are thinking of displaying the raw data for folks to inspect. Some readers will look at the data and shake their heads saying something like, “I can’t believe folks would be charging prices this low”, while others will respond with, “I can’t believe folks charge prices that high… they must be ripping-off customers.”

Following the initial release of pricing data gathered for the above-mentioned survey, we conducted a couple of additional sorts and analyses. We separated data by method of product as indicated by our survey respondents. Even though the two production methods are distinctly different from a costing and production standpoint, the pricing for the products or services is surprisingly close, especially in terms of average prices. Note too the amazing similarity in pricing for number of carbonless forms.

 

NPRC Releases Covid-19 & Supply Chain Report

After providing VIP “early-release copies” to all survey participants, NPRC has now released its special 8-page Covid-19 and Supply Chain Report to the entire industry. Download this FREE PDF copy of this special report by clicking here or the artwork below.

How Many Are Vaccinated?

The survey revealed some surprising results with the most surprising result being that almost 80% (79.6%) of our respondents (owners) stated they had been vaccinated for Covid-19. The vaccinations rate for spouses was almost identical at 77%.

Mandatory testing or vaccinations for employees? Despite the fact that the vast majority of employers told us they where not requiring either testing or Covid-19 vaccinations for their employees, they estimated that almost 76% (average) of their employees were indeed vaccinated.

Are Supply Chain Issues Serious?

How serious are supply chain issues? – Our initial survey findings reported that there appears to be a growing concern with supply chain issues. While almost 44% described the current situation as having only minimal to modest impact on their businesses, 55% told us they were indeed already experiencing disruptions, but added that the situation was manageable, at least for the short-term.

More than 165 printing firms participated in the survey

Prices Driven by the Market, Not Costs!

The following is an excerpt from the Executive Summary of the 2021-2022 NPRC Digital Color Pricing Study:

Market-Driven Pricing – We cannot stress enough the fact that prices presented in this study reflect prices as they are in the industry, and not necessarily what should be! Only you can determine the proper price to charge for a specific product or service.

People sometimes call our report a Pricing Guide and we clarify this by noting, that our industry studies make no attempt whatsoever to establish or suggest to printers what they should charge for specific services.

What this study accomplishes is to accurately portray “real world” average and median prices being charged for dozens and dozens of digitally products and services in our industry. The prices are “what they are,” and not “what they should be.” Only you can make that determination.

“The prices are ‘what they are,’ and not ‘what they should be.’ Only you can make that determination.”

As is so often the case in this industry, the prices currently being charged for products and services are far more likely to be based upon a variety of market conditions rather than upon actual costs of production. In many situations in this industry, products are often sold for far more that their actual production costs plus a standard markup might otherwise suggest or warrant.

This is due in large measure to the ability of many printers to sell their products at prices based upon their “perceived value” rather than based upon a laundry list of costs and mark-ups. Unfortunately, some printers never really comprehend this concept.

Another factor that contributes to perceived value is the ability of printers to meet or exceed even the most stringent demands of their customers in regard to quality and turnaround time. The greater this ability, the greater the latitude there is in pricing specific products and services. Too many printers we have met over the decades give a great deal of lip service to claims about quality and customer service but often fail miserably when put to the test. They claim great customer service when in fact, compared to others, it is mediocre. Claims of high quality are often equally exaggerated as well.

“Too many printers we have met over the decades give a great deal of lip service to claims about quality and customer service but often fail miserably when put to the test.”

Purchase this new study by visiting the NPRC Bookstore and you’ll
receive your PDF copy of the complete study within 30 minutes or less.

NPRC Releases Popular Digital Pricing Study

 The 2021 Digital Color Pricing Study, one of the printing industry’s most popular studies, has just been released by NPRC and is  available in the NPRC Bookstore.

This new study features average, median and per unit pricing for products such as envelopes, 8, 16 and 32-page newsletters, envelopes and carbonless forms, rack cards and postcards, as well as dozens of other popular digital products.

If you’re a “profit leader” in this industry, or you aspire to be one, then this report is a “must-have” document. Profit leaders recognize how important it is monitor and keep-up with pricing in the industry. They know that pricing products too high can lose them jobs, while pricing jobs too low can impact their bottom line!

NPRC’s newest pricing study can be ordered now in the bookstore with most orders being processed in two hours or less!

“This year’s study is more accurate than ever,” notes John Stewart, NPRC Executive Director. “Pricing for every product has been double-checked and then checked again for outliers. The result is a study that contains extremely accurate pricing data that printers can count on as being truly representative of current national pricing,” adds Stewart. “One of the things we stress year-after-year is that the greatest variation in pricing occurs at the local level, and not at the regional or national level as many printers often believe,” cautions Stewart.

We know, with a high degree of certainty, that pricing for many products within a small town or city can vary by as much as 30-35% and even more, and yet the national or regional average price for that same product will rarely vary by more than 4-6%.”

“We hate to hear printers claim that ‘price are different’ in their market, as compared to national pricing when we know absolutely that is not true,” explains Stewart. “We know with a high degree of certainty that pricing for many products within a small town or city can vary by as much as 30-35% and even more, and yet the national or regional average price for that same product will rarely vary by more than 4-6%.” Stewart adds. 

Industry Sales Per Employee

Average Sales Per Employee among all 196 participants average $133,892 while the median SPE was $126,667. This represents an approximate drop in SPE of approximately 5% as compared to what was reported in the summer of 2019.

The 2021 Digital Pricing Study provides both average and median pricing for specific quantities as well as per unit pricing. This year’s report also features “Average/Median Deviation” data calculated as a percent to demonstrate the accuracy of the data collected.

Pricing Data for Postcards

The chart above is typical of the type of data available in NPRC’s latest study. The national average for 1M, 4/4 6×9″ Postcards is $346 with the median at $333., a pricing deviation of less than 4%.

Don’t Blame Covid-19 for Business Closures!

Blaming Covid-19 for all the problems? – While there is no question that Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on our industry in terms of both profit and sales, there are underlying problems that continue to impact our industry as well.

Many firms we surveyed were facing modest to serious financial problems long before March 2020 came along! Now, 12-months later, an unknown number of firms have closed their doors, while others are counting upon more federal and state relief packages to help them survive.

We predict that 2021 will experience another round of closures, most of which can be blamed on poor financial management and not Covid-19.  Many of the firms that will close their doors have been poorly managed for years, and yet they will seek to blame Covid-19 (or anything else for that matter) for most of their problems. Many owners will attempt to sell their firms only to discover their businesses are worth 60-80% less than they expected!

Ironically, while many printers will cite Covid-19 and pricing by competitors as an excuse for not raising prices, other printers, sometimes those right down the street, will review a study such as this (The 2021-22 Digital Color Pricing Study) and move ahead with confidence and raise prices based upon what they uncover in this study.

While “belt-tightening” and improved efficiency can always help to reduce the need to raise prices, prices still need to be adjusted and raised and “smart” printers do just that.

The Battle to Recover Sales & Profits

Published Oct. 15, 2020

Printers Continue to Face Covid-19 Challenges
As They Battle to Recover Sales & Profits
By John C. Stewart, Executive Director, NPRC

It’s been seven months since Covid-19 first began impacting our industry (as well as the entire U.S. economy) and NPRC has been surveying fellow printers ever since. Some businesses have closed their doors in the past few months, while others struggle to recover lost sales.

All in all, it has clearly been a rough seven months for the printing industry and our latest survey data indicates that while there may be light at the end of the tunnel the tunnel itself extends well into 2021 and possibly into 2022.

We launched our 4th Covid-19 survey on Oct. 6, 2020 and we implemented a strict Deadline of October 12th to allow us time to analyze and report our findings back to survey participants in a timely fashion. If you would like to view July 20-21st Covid-19 Report click here, or copy and paste the following: https://printingresearch.org/resilient-industry-despite-major-sales-declines/

We received 136 responses in our shortened survey time-frame. Below is a very brief profile of the firms that participated:

 

 

Average Median
2020 Projected Sales $1,290,601 $696,500
2020 Projected SPE    $134,149  $114,943
Staffing Jan. 1, 2020       9.27     5.0
Staffing Proj’d Jan 1, 2021       8.11     5.0

 

So Where Do We Stand?  As you can see from the following (Chart #1), the industry indeed suffered a dramatic decline in quarterly sales of almost 30% between the 1st and 2nd Quarters. And while the data shows signs of a modest recover since the end of the 2nd quarter, the recovery has been far from a “full recovery,” with projected 4th quarter average sales still down almost 15%!

Although we often rely on averages as opposed to medians, it is notable that the projected drop in median sales for the 4th quarter 2020 is down 29% – clearly an indication that the road to recovery for our industry is surely a long one.

#2 Employee Staffing Report – In order to help us with various SPE calculations, we asked survey participants to tell us how many total employees (excluding all working owners & partners) were employed at the beginning of each quarter in 2020, as well as what they projected for the 1st quarter in 2021. We used this data to calculate our SPEs for those respective periods.

Chart #3 below illustrates the results of our calculations for the various periods specified. Average reported SPE dropped almost 20% between the 1st quarter and year-end projections. The median decline was almost identical at 18%.

#3 Deployment of work force? We asked employers to tell us the current status of their workforce – who was working at their main plant versus who was still working at home. According to our data, approximately 92% of employees are now back at work, with the remaining 8% still working at home.

#4 Employee Staffing – Today vs. March 1, 2020 – Survey participants reported that their overall average staffing, as compared to March 1, 2020 was down -13.4%. The median decline was down -10%. It is clear from our data that employers, have not reacted as quickly to modifying their staffing as they have to declines in sales. The failure to react to same has resulted in lower SPEs than would otherwise be expected.

Questions #5 – #8 – June/July Sales 2020 vs. 2019 – We queried survey participants to compare their monthly sales for the months of June, July, August and September against their corresponding periods in 2019.

Not a single participating firm indicated they had increased their sales during the respective months. As you can see from the graph below, average and median sales declines of 20-25% were quite common among our survey participants.

Survey Questions #9 – #11 (2020 vs. 2019 Comparative Sales) asked participants to examine various sales periods and indicate how much their sales had increased/decreased for the respective reporting periods. Suffice it to say that while a handful of firms did report sales increases in the 2-6% range, most firms indicated significant declines in sales as indicated below.

Questions #12 – #14 – Covid-19 and Its Impact on Specific Sales – These questions addressed the impact that Covid-19 has had on three categories of sales during the past seven months (March – Sept 2020).

Based upon our data, it appears that digital and offset printing sales have both been heavily impacted by the Corona virus, with digital printing possibly being hit slightly more. Brokered printing has been slightly less impacted but declines of -18% are not easily dismissed.

Note that the questions covered cumulative declines over a 7-month period of time. Just as the sales declines have occurred over an extended period of time, so too will be any recovery. There is no reason or logic that we can see that would suggest that sales of digital, offset and even brokered sales will rebound anytime soon.

“There is no reason or logic that we can
see that would suggest that sales of digital,
offset and even brokered sales will
rebound anytime soon.”

We suspect, although we have no hard evidence to support this statement, that our industry may indeed have to wait until the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2021, if not beyond that time, before we begin to see even a hint that the economy returning to the pre-Covid economy that existed in January or February 2020.

15 – Sales of Covid-19 Related Sales – Some firms indicated early on that they were turning to selling and/or promoting various Covid-19 products (gloves, masks, sanitizers, dispensers, and signs) as a way to possibly make up for sales lost to Covid-19. We asked participants to estimate the volume of sales generated over the preceding 7-months.

As you can see from the graph below, approximately 28% of our respondents indicated they had sold between $5,000 and $25,000 Covid products. An additional 12% of respondents reported sales of $25,000 or greater.

At the other end of the spectrum, approximately 50% of all survey participants indicated they had sold less than $2,500 during that 7-month period.

#16 – Cash Reserves as of Oct. 2020? We asked participants to tell us the status of their current cash reserves. We specified that taking into account steps and expenditures they had taken through Sept. 2020, we asked them to tell us how many additional weeks or months they felt they could operate under the current Covid-19 economy.

The graph below presents a far more positive picture than previous graphs we have posted due to the fact that weaker firms have already dropped by the wayside. As a general observation, firms that continue to operate today, even at a reduced capacity and at lower sales levels, are by their very nature healthier companies.

At least 73% of our participating firms indicate they are well-positioned for 2021 and whatever transpires in regard to the continuing challenges of Covid-19.

#17 – Overall Confidence Level – Question #17 of our survey asked participants to tell us that in light of everything that has transpired during the previous 7 months, how would they rate their confidence that their business will be somewhat “back to normal or better” by July 2021.

The scale we used ranged as follows: -100 (very doubtful) to 0 in the center (chances are 50/50), to +100 (extremely confident).

The collective answer? The average score was 7.2, or just slightly above the “chances are 50-50” that things will be back to normal. The median score was 0. Certainly not optimistic, but most likely as realistic considering what the industry has already gone through in the past seven months.

#18 – Prospects for the Future – We gave participants six choices to describe the impact that Covid-19 has had on their business during the March-September 2020 time frame. Below are their answers:

#19 – Efforts to Recapture Customers – We asked owners to tell us what methods they were implementing and/or employing to recapture the attention of their existing customers as well as to attract new ones. Multiple answers were allowed. We suspect that had this question been asked pre-Covid-19, the percentage of owners indicating they were using “direct mail” would have been significantly lower.

#20 – Vendor/Supplier Costs – Participants were asked to tell us by what percent, if any, had their vendor/supplier costs increased or decreased. Owners told us that they had experienced a modest average increase in pricing of 3.9%, and a median price increase of 1.0%.

#21 – Impact on Selling Prices – The vast majority (98%) of owners indicated that neither increased or decreased their selling prices during this 7-month timeframe.

#22 – Support for the President – We posed the question: “Considering everything that has transpired since Jan. 1, 2020 in regards to the Covid-19 Pandemic, how would you rate your support of President Donald J. Trump and his administration?”

The scale we used ranged from “Totally Opposed” (0) to “Fully Support” (100). The results? The average score was 55.7. The median score was 75. The distribution of answers from 0 to 100 was startling in their extremes, with 23% of owners grading the President with a “0” and 33.7% awarding the President a “100.”

It was clear from our data that our survey revealed a case of extremes. Participants either “loved the President” or they “hate” him.

 

Please note that this report is Copyrighted and initial distribution has been limited to those firms who participated in any one or all of the three Covid-19 Surveys conducted by NPRC. This limited distribution is being done in recognition of and out of respect for the firms who took the time and effort to complete one or more of our surveys. However, in recognition that we serve the entire industry as well, we will publicly distribute this report within the next 15 days. For right now, however, we ask that you refrain from forwarding this report on to others. Thank you for your support. Send comments or questions to [email protected], 2110 Dairy Road, #102, Melbourne, FL 32904

 

NPRC Shares July-Sept. Covid-19 Findings

Although the primary purpose of our recent “Survey of Surveys” was to determine where to concentrate our efforts in the next six months, we couldn’t help but ask a few questions regarding Covid-19 and its impact on the printing industry.

Based upon survey data we have gathered since early March 2020, it is clear that Covid-19 has had a major impact quarterly and annual sales for 2020 and into 2021. In contrast with what President Trump often says, the effects and impact of Covid-19 on the printing industry are not going to suddenly disappear.

“In contrast with what President Trump often says, the effects and impact of Covid-19 on the printing industry are not going to suddenly disappear.”

In fact, the data NPRC has collected so far strongly suggests many printers are forecasting significant declines in sales through 2021.

Projected sales for 2020 and 2021

Whether we are looking at raw $$$ or percentages, our survey participants, whether we are talking “averages” or “medians,” are forecasting troubled times at least for the next 18-24 months.

Significant Declines in Annual Sales

Relying upon financial data we have collected for more than 38 years, 2020 and possibly 2021 will be the first two years on record where sales (at least forecast sales) will actually be lower than the preceding year. Based upon our most recent data, printers are predicting their 2020 sales will be down -14.5% (Average) compared to 2019. Note the median data is only slightly better, reporting sales for year-end 2020 will be down -11.5%.

Significant declines in sales forecast for 2021

When it comes to key ratios in our industry, we will be the first to admit we have rarely if ever had to prepare and present charts and graphs dealing with “negative” numbers. Nonetheless, it is what is, with significant declines in sales projected through year-end 2021.

What about 2021 Sales? As you can see from the chart above, printers who responded to our most recent survey are predicting that year-end sales for 2021 will still be -6.4% below 2019 sales.

Typically we always calculate “averages” because we need that number to calculate “margin of error.” However, in many cases, this one being one of them, we feel the “median” is probably more reflective of what is happening in the industry. The median, unlike averages, is not distorted by large outliers. And while the latter are often valid, they can easily distort an otherwise realistic “average.”

As you can see from the chart above, many printers are predicting an even greater decline in annual sales for 2021 than they are forecasting for 2020. Part of the reason for this is that sales for January, February, and a portion of March 2020 were generally healthy and unaffected by Convid-19. Thus, it is not surprising to see that the negative median sales projection for 2021 is greater than the median for 2020, since the latter included 2.5 months (Jan-March) of relatively healthy sales.

Covid-19’s Impact on SPE

We continue to rely upon “Sales Per Employee” (SPE) calculations as a reliable method for tracking productivity in the industry. The data we’ve collected since early spring is extremely encouraging. It appears that printers, mailers and sign company owners are clearly reacting to the impact that Covid-19 has had by making significant adjustments in staffing.

Following what turned out to be major reductions in staffing earlier in the year, many employers appear more than willing to make some of those preliminary adjustments in staffing permanent. Employers appear willing to make “permanent” furloughed decisions made earlier in the year, even at the risk of losing some long-term employees. Many owners have reluctantly made significant adjustments in staffing and payroll, believing that is what it is going to take to survive the financial challenges brought about by the current pandemic.

Despite forecast for many problems ahead, sales per employee appears to be holding its own.

We are pleased to note that printers appear to have reacted quickly to Covid-19 and have made significant adjustments in staffing to maintain healthy SPE ratios.

Popularity of NPRC Surveys

Popularity of NPRC Studies

NPRC typically publishes 2-3 industry surveys a year. Companies that participate and complete a survey are automatically entitled to a FREE PDF of the final report. The graph below illustrates the relative participation levels in various surveys based upon our “Survey of Surveys.”

Participation levels in various surveys

This graph illustrates the relative degree of participation in various NPRC surveys.

Perceived Value of Studies – For planning purposes, we asked survey participants (125) to score a list of seven studies we have published in the past five years and rate the studies on a scale of 0-100 in terms of “Perceived Value.” The chart below illustrates the results.

Perceived value of various NPRC research studies.

We asked survey participants to rate or grade the overall perceived value of eight different studies we’ve published in the past five years.

Our Next Study – Based in large part on the feedback we received, NPRC has decided to launch a new industry 2020-21 Wage & Benefits Survey within the next two weeks. Not only does this study typically attract a healthy level of participation, it presents data that is critically important, especially in a time when employers are cutting costs, but also carefully monitoring labor costs.

“…end up receiving a “two week” notice from a long-term employee who you possibly failed to acknowledge or reward in a timely or adequate manner.”

It is one thing to discover that you might be paying an above average wage to a key yet “average” employee, but it is another thing entirely to end up receiving a “two week” notice from a long-term employee who you possibly failed to acknowledge or reward in a timely or adequate manner.

For additional information about NPRC and its various services and products, we invite you to visit our website at: www.printingresearch.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resilient Industry Despite Major Sales Declines

You can now download for free NPRC’s latest Covid-19 Report. Based upon a survey conducted in mid-July 2020 that attracted almost 200 printers, this report offers a detailed look at sales and productivity in the printing industry.

Although the industry has been forced to tighten its belt and make significant adjustment in daily operations, the report notes a “ray of optimism in terms of how printers continue to handle accounts payable. The new report also notes that 89% of survey participants indicate they are either “back to normal” or open under modified hours of operation. Only 11% of respondents indicated they remained “closed to the public.”

Download this special FREE report by clicking here or the artwork to the left. Please note that these NPRC surveys and reports are published and distributed free throughout the printing industry.

If you are interested in furthering and encouraging the type of research represented by surveys such as these, we encourage you to support our efforts by joining NPRC. With annual dues of only $240, your contribution will go a long way towards ensuring that top-notch research such as this continues in our industry.

Prospects that sales will return to “normal” by the end of 2020 are highly unlikely according to NPRC’s latest report.

Approximately 44% of industry report some degree of confidence that the economy with return to normal by July 2021, with the remainder being neutral or negative in their outlook.