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 15 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.

In July, we shared some market insights based on data pulled from the Monthly Industry Conditions Dashboard. This market monitoring report from our Economic and Market Research department can be used to determine where the industry is trending in the short term, which can help you better forecast demand for the coming quarters.

In Industry Trends Report: Part 1—Monthly Sales we learned about the wide swings and modestly rising sales printers are experiencing. Positive sales for 2013 are predicted in Industry Trends Report: Part 2—Sales Expectations.

How do we get these results? 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).

We’ll compare print and paper prices in two weeks for Part 4 of the series and where you can expect them to be in 2013.

The findings you will read are based on July 2013 calculations using a net diffusion index. A net diffusion index is an 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.