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ISA Quarterly Economic Report Shows Caution and Opportunities Ahead




A variety of outside factors have created a cautious environment when it comes to spending, according to the ISA Sign Industry Quarterly Economic Report for the first quarter of 2019. Still, some commodity prices make now an optimal time to purchase, before anticipated price increases in the second half of the year. 

While the overall economic conditions may create some caution, the sign, graphics and visual communications industry is expected to remain at or slightly above historical averages.

The report assesses four segments of the industry: two supplier markets (printing and electrical/digital signage) and two end markets (electric/digital signage and architectural signage). It also forecasts commodities. The Sign Industry Economic Report, prepared in March, is sponsored by the National Association of Sign Supply Distributors (NASSD).

It is compiled by IHS and Vandiver Associates and analyzes each segment of the market upstream and downstream to allow users to stay current with evolving business conditions.

Some highlights:
•    Real GDP growth was expected to slow from a 2.6% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 1.3% in the first quarter of 2019. With financial conditions improving and federal workers back on the job, growth should rebound to 2.5% in the second quarter. 
•    The unemployment rate is expected to decrease from 3.8% in February to a low of 3.5% in the second half of 2019. Tight labor and product markets will push inflation modestly above the Federal Reserve’s 2% objective. 
•    Long-term growth in the end market electric/digital category will depend on a complete and flexible solution; integration of multiple sensors, IoT or AI technology. In the fourth quarter, 1.1 million public-display units were shipped—a 20% year over year increase, with expectations for a 3.6 times growth within 10 years. 
•    Of the four areas of interest to the sign, graphics and visual communications industry, all segments are expected to slow moving into 2020, with supply side printing in particular declining.

Those interested in learning more about the ISA Sign Industry Quarterly Economic Report, including the outlook for the rest of the year, can participate in a free webinar hosted by ISA at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT Wednesday, May 1.  Register at The webinar is free for ISA, ISA Affiliated Association and NASSD members or $100 for non-members. 


The report also is free for ISA, ISA Affiliated Association and NASSD members. Non-members may purchase it for $1,000 per quarterly forecast. This research can be accessed at



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