The past 18 months have been the most challenging of my 15 years of working in the print industry… How many long-time print professionals have your heard say this?
The most difficult thing I have had to deal with professionally is uncertainty. I love to plan, and uncertainty makes it difficult to effectively do so more than a few months ahead (or in COVID’s case weeks). Most importantly, uncertainty has a huge impact on consumer spending, which one way or another will always result in a reduction in demand for print. When businesses look to reduce their outgoings, marketing and advertising budgets are usually one of the first to be slashed.
Whilst we have had numerous false starts to date and more turbulence than flying through a hurricane, it certainly feels different this time around and there seems to be a much clearer path ahead. As each day and week goes by, I am starting to see more and more positive signals for the print and signage industry.
Here’s 3 reasons why I am optimistic for the short to medium future of large format print;
Consistency is Key!
Now, I am not naïve enough to believe that because we’re finally seeing consistent growth, this means the print and signage industry is in the clear and I am also acutely aware that this can very quickly change.
However, as a predominantly trade supplier, dealing with everything from 1-man bands to multinationals, we do generally get a good indication through product sales and dialogue with our customers as to the general mood within the industry. And right now, I would definitely say there is an overwhelming feeling of optimism.
Moreover, gone are the extreme peaks and troughs that we have become accustomed to over the last 18 months of business, and we are now seeing what might be considered more regular purchasing activity for this time of year. Of course it wouldn’t be the print industry if there wasn’t the odd colossal last-minute order rolling in to cause a few headaches, but I for one would much rather have this dilemma to deal with .
Back To Doing What We Do Best – Filling Gaps
During the depths of COVID, like almost every print and signage business, our customer base completely changed almost overnight as the industry went into a bit of a scramble, with businesses forced to enter new markets in search of work as their existing revenue streams were no longer viable.
Now we’re finally seeing real signs of sustained growth and consistency from the very much welcome return of our “trade” customer base, which makes around 95% of our customer base. A positive indicator that the industry is returning to normality, with demand significant and consistent enough that our customer’s need support to increase their capacity levels during busy periods and to fill any holes in their capabilities.
Another positive indicator for our industry is our product sales composition, which has drastically changed for the good since the start of 2021. Long gone are the days of face masks, sneeze screens and scrubs, replaced by good old large format print and the very encouraging growth in the sale of hardware, currently preforming way above what we saw pre-COVID, with flagpoles and wall-mounted systems in particular excelling.
There’s More on the Horizon
There’s plenty to be positive about in the short to medium term!
The vaccine programme has been a great success and consumer confidence appears to be growing, which when combined with a favourable amount of “latent demand” creates a great environment for many industries. Thus far the economy has recovered better than initially anticipated, there’s obviously a few more hurdles to come when it comes to a full economic recovery, but things definitely seem to be trending in the right direction.
Before we know it, the retail industry will be gearing up for Christmas. I really feel this year we will see a huge push from this sector as they do everything possible to drive footfall back into their stores. Moreover, with online advertising becoming saturated over the last year and a half, driving costs up and decreasing visibility, many marketers are now turning to outdoor advertising as a way of cutting through the noise to drive brand awareness.
Lastly, 2022 should finally see the full-scale return of “in-person” events and exhibitions, which as you will well know is a huge contributor to the print and signage industry and despite currently being permitted is running well below their standard levels.
What do you think the biggest challenges and opportunities are for the print industry over the coming months? Whether you’re calm and confident or bricking yourself in the final months of 2021, Banner Box print solutions is here to help. Get in touch today and learn how we can support your business with capacity, capabilities, and first-class customer service. Call 01246 472949 or email [email protected]