In this four-part series, we’ll take a look at how each indicator from the Monthly Conditions Dashboard is affecting your business based on the survey results from the past 11 months. Charts are also provided to show the trends in an easy-to-read format, so you can benchmark your current market conditions with hundreds of other printers.

We watch the weather each morning to help us plan what to wear and if we’re taking our umbrella to work that day (and trust that the meteorologist is accurate!). You can find a reliable “economic weather report,” the Monthly Industry Conditions Dashboard*, which is an established industry market trends report from our Economic and Market Research department that provides the information to plan your business strategies each month.

How does it all work? Survey respondents provide information in five principle areas—1) Monthly Sales, 2) Sales Expectations, 3) Profits, and 4) Print and Paper Prices. Current sales and profits are compared to the previous month. Printing prices and paper prices are current month compared to 12 months earlier. Sales expectations are expectations for next month compared to the current month. Respondents are asked to report the directional change of each of the five key indicators (increasing, decreasing, or no change).

See how your sales compare with the industry below. Check back in two weeks for Part 2 of the series and find out where your sales are expected to go in 2013.

The findings you will read are based on March 2013 calculations using a net diffusion index, where the percentage of respondents reporting an increase is subtracted from the percentage of respondents reporting a decrease. The net diffusion index provides a simple snapshot of printers’ market perceptions for each variable.

Part 1—Monthly Sales


A look back over the past eleven months shows wide swings in printers’ monthly sales. With a high reading of 47.9% in October of last year and a low of –23.1% in December, and an eleven-month average of 10.8%. This 10.8% sales diffusion index reading is consistent with our quarterly findings of modest growth in 2012.

The latest reading of 36.9 in March shows that printers’ sales generally trended higher in March, so the typical printer is experiencing modestly rising sales. As forecasted in our Charting a Path for 2013–2014 report, we expect stronger industry sales in the first quarter of 2013 and growth to taper off slightly throughout the year.

Printing Industries of America members respond to the survey to uncover some of the key areas of their business to develop the Monthly Industry Conditions Dashboard from the Economic and Market Research department. With regular updates on current market trends, printers are better able to benchmark their business, prepare, and make more informed decisions to improve their bottom line.

To participate in the May 2013 survey and learn more, go to All individual company information will be kept confidential. For questions, contact Ed Gleeson at

Check back in two weeks for Part 2 of the series and find out where your sales are expected to go in 2013.

*Click here to visit the Monthly Industry Conditions Dashboard—log in using the username and password provided.