After months of non stop political commercials, mud-slinging and debates, virtually everyone is glad that the elections are over. However, there is one large group that as a whole wishes it would go on for a while longer. Happy as clams during the campaign season, which seems like its been at least a year, the print industry received a huge boost to their bottom line while printing bumper stickers, campaign signs, and direct-mail post cards.
The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that nearly $6 billion was spent during the past year on local, state, and national elections. US Print industry guru and Rochester Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus, Frank Romano told PrintWeek that he saw many more lawn signs this year than in past elections, adding ” Many of the signs in people’s lawns now have the picture of the candidate on them – this is because of wide format inkjet printers. In the past, these were done with screen printing, but today they’re done with inkjet.
Copy and print businesses, armed with high quality and performance, wide format inkjet printers, were able to provide candidates in every local county and boro with inexpensive banners, posters, and direct-mail flyers and post cards. Wide format inkjets provide exceptional DPI for the money, and a complete feature set at a lower cost than screen printing. Some wide format devices are so inexpensive in fact that complete print campaigns can be done from the comfort of home.
The Printing industry of America estimates that election years add an average of 1 percent to US commercial printing revenues. However, many small business owners of printing companies saw the first real increase in business since the 2009 recession due to the election. Now that the campaigns are over, the boost in revenue that they saw will go away and it will be back to business as usual.
Beyond lawn signs however, direct mail post cards and political mailers were sent out in the millions of units. Another boost to the printing industry ecosystem from the ink and paper suppliers, to the small business that prints the final item, and even to the US Postal Service, which made money (finally) delivering all the election propaganda. A postal service spokesperson said that the USPS did $337 million in political mail, which did not even include election mail like ballots and registration forms, which added another $50 million to the tally.
Despite the election year bump, a Printing Industries of America survey of 208 panelists, showed that overall sales volume was in decline. For the past few quarters, the majority of the industry growth was generated from larger firms, and since the fourth quarter of 2011, there has been a noticeable trend – larger firms reporting sales growth declining each quarter. From a high of 5.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, to a low of 2.1 percent in the present quarter.
So how can annual sales be up 2.3 percent for the year and the overall trend be going down? That’s where the election year wild card comes in. Without this year’s bumper crop of print jobs, the industry would have been been in worse shape than a losing candidate.