Fujifilm North America Corporation’s Graphic Systems Division (Hanover Park, Illinois), has announced the results from interviews with more than 1,100 customers indicating an encouraging outlook for print service providers, despite the recent COVID-19 impact on many businesses. Most notably, the highest number of responses (32%) projected a return to normal business conditions in the July/August 2020 time frame, while 24% projected a return to normal business conditions in September/October of 2020. Overall, a combined total of 72% of customers expressed optimism about a return to normal business conditions by October of this year. In regard to staffing, the highest number of respondents said staffing levels currently remained unchanged (36%), while some accounts reported decreases of between 1% and 26%. Some respondents reported retention of staff and utilization of material cutting and sewing capabilities to successfully shift business priorities and produce personal protective equipment (PPE) to support COVID-19 responses. A significant number of customers (54%) reported applying for the U.S. government’s Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or operating loans.
Expanding the variety of production capabilities was key to business continuity plans for printers, as the reported production volume impact from COVID-19 was significant, with 83% of the respondents reporting declines in production volume up to 40% or more since the start of the pandemic. This statistic excludes businesses deemed essential during the shutdown, including news/print media, whose performance remained flat during this time. Across multiple segments, despite lower order intake in April, there’s been a significant increase in demand for consumable products in May that correlate closely with states re-opening, and an increased level of business activity across the country. “The customer data points have provided us with quite a bit of insight into the market and the individual situations at each customer,” said Todd Zimmerman, Division President at Fujifilm North America’s Graphic Systems Division. “This has helped us with our production planning to be sure we have inventory available as markets recover. We are as anxious as our customers for a return to more normal business conditions.”
Methodology. Fujifilm North America Corporation’s Graphic Systems Division interviewed its print service provider customers from the commercial, sign and display, and packaging segments. Since many operations today serve more than one market, and do more than one type of printing, the customer interviews uncovered insights regarding each of these three market segments. The interviews were conducted between April 15 and May 15, 2020, with Fujifilm Graphic Systems customers across the United States. The majority of the interviews were conducted with companies that defined themselves as commercial printers, followed by sign and display printers and packaging printers. Interviews with customers centered on four main topics:
- Changes in production volume
- Changes in staffing levels
- Applications for government Paycheck Protection Program assistance or other operating loans
- Projections regarding a return to normal business conditions