It has been many years since we have been able to use the word “Stable” to refer to thermal paper. However, we can now through that word into our conversations!
It seems that thermal pricing has begun to stabilize in the marketplace. We have seen a leveling of pricing and an end to the rapid increases. I predict that this trend will become more of the norm over the next 6 months. In addition to the pricing, supply has also become more readily available. I contribute these two facts for the following reasons:
- Demand is starting to level off. The past 24 months have been filled with supply fear and pricing fear. We saw hoarding of paper as well as ordering in advance to avoid future cost increases. This affected the traditional order cycles and created a low in demand.
- There is a lot of inventory being held by users of thermal paper. If the users are borrowing money to pay for inventory, this cost has rapidly increased with rising interest rates.
- CFOs are looking to reduce inventory levels and costs associated with carrying large amounts of inventory. This means no new ordering till levels inventory levels drop.
- Demand has started to soften. We are seeing reductions in retail transactions that are driven by a lack of consumer confidence as well as transitions away from brick-and-mortar stores.
- Political and economic uncertainty is playing a role in the decision-making process of buyers. In the past, companies could look at the past few years and develop a roadmap of consumer trends and cycles. With the COVID crisis, most companies are going to have trouble making those accurate predictions.
What is the prediction for 6-12 months? At this point, I would expect to see a little reduction in paper costs. As mills try to keep up their production capacity, I would expect to see minor reductions by some mills. That said, I do not think we will ever see pricing as low as 2019.
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