Latest ISA report projects a strong 2018/2019 for sign, graphics and visual communications industry

The sign, graphics and visual communications industry is enjoying a strong 2018, thanks to an easing of uncertainty surrounding commodity prices and a stronger U.S. economy, according to the International Sign Association (ISA, Alexandria, Virginia). Plus, the stronger economy will continue to push the industry forward in 2019, according to the ISA’s Sign Industry Quarterly Economic Report for the third quarter of 2018. 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/wayfinding signage). It also forecasts commodities. The report, prepared in September of 2018, was sponsored by the National Association of Sign Supply Distributors (NASSD). Compiled by IHS and Vandiver Associates, it analyzes each segment of the market upstream and downstream, to allow users to stay current with evolving business conditions.
Some highlights include:

  • U.S. gross domestic product topped 4.2% in the second quarter of 2018 and is expected to remain near a 3% average over the second half of this year. Globally, economic growth is slowing, down from 3.7% last year to 3.2% this year. It’s expected to drop to 2.9% by 2020. The Eurozone growth is moderating, with uncertainties caused by higher oil prices, political changes in Italy and Spain, and a financial crisis in Turkey. UK growth is slowed by Brexit-related uncertainty, the report added.
  • Steel prices are starting to ease. Even with the 25% tariff imposed by the Trump administration, imports remain cheaper. (Steel from South Korea and Brazil is subject to quotas).
  • A 40% year-on-year increase in pulp prices, along with anti-dumping duties on newsprint from Canada, continues to add pressure to prices. With lumber, expectations are for prices to continue to drop well into 2019.
  • For supply-side printing, the outlook remains solid, despite a slight weakening due to rising commodity prices. Supply side electrical/digital also remains up well into 2019 due to more spending on intellectual property products.
  • In end markets, electrical/digital continues to show strength through 2019. New data in architectural/wayfinding points to a stronger-than-expected year in 2018 followed by a more robust year in 2019.

Those interested in learning more about the ISA’s Sign Industry Quarterly Economic Report and the outlook for the rest of 2018 and 2019, can participate in a free webinar hosted by ISA at 2 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, October 30. Please register at The webinar is free for ISA, ISA Affiliated Association or NASSD members, or $100 for non-members. The report itself is free for ISA, ISA Affiliated Association and NASSD members. Non-members can purchase it for $1,000 (USD) per quarterly forecast. This research can be accessed at

Tony Curcio
Tony Curcio is the news editor at Graphic Arts Magazine.

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