More than half of the mailing service companies that responded to the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association's Industry Business Outlook Survey released yesterday reported increases in mail piece volume over the third quarter of 2001, while 35 percent reported declines.
The third quarter was far more positive than the second quarter, MFSA said, as many more members reported that sales, profits and volumes were up over third-quarter 2001. Sentiment was strong that fourth-quarter results would be even better than those of the third quarter.
MFSA said that perhaps the best news was the turnaround in profitability. In the second quarter, the number of members reporting lower net profits was 20 percent greater than those reporting higher net profits. Those figures were reversed for the third quarter. Nearly 20 percent more members said net profits were up over Q3 2001 than those who said net profits were down.
For fulfillment operations, 53 percent of respondents said gross sales for fulfillment rose over the same period in 2001 and 35 percent said sales were down.
More members reported increases in the number of items shipped as well, with 51 percent reporting higher volume over Q3 2001 and 39 percent reporting lower volume. These numbers were improvements over second-quarter figures.
The most dramatic change on the fulfillment side was in profits. Like the mailing side, many more members reported net profits being down than up in second-quarter 2002. In the third quarter, however, 53 percent said net profits rose and only 33 percent said they fell.
Mailers predicted that the fourth quarter would be better than the third, with 60 percent to 70 percent of respondents from mailing operations saying they expected gross sales, net profits and mail piece volume to be up. Those who expected decreases in each of these areas hovered around 20 percent.
Enthusiasm was more restrained among fulfillment operations. About 45 percent expected increased sales, profits and shipping volume in the fourth quarter and 25 percent expected declines.