Germany accounts for the largest printing industry in Europe. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic did impact the printing industry (like other industry sectors) heavily. Still, it is difficult to quantify the impact as the most recent revenue data available from Eurostat dates from 2018. As a more timely series, Eurostat publishes a production index for printing and recorded media, which gives an indication on how production volumes developed based on 2015 averages. The most recent data point dates from November 2020.
During the height of the COVID-19 crisis in April 2020, the production volume index dropped to 66% of the 2015 production average. As volumes were slightly down compared to 2015 already before the pandemic, the drop amounts to 25% below the pre-coronavirus average. In contrast, the EU output dropped by 31% compared to the pre-pandemic average.
The steep drop led to a strong recovery in May and June, but in July the recovery slowed. Numbers remained essentially flat since August as gradually the second wave of lockdowns kicked in. Until November 2020, the index inched up, but only slightly and remains 10% below the pre-COVID values. Further recovery will depend on industry and service sectors currently shut down or impeded kicking in again.
Taking into account the decline and recovery the industry production could be down by 10 to 15%. Assuming a slight increase in prices the revenue decline for 2020 over 2019 could be in the 10% range.
The index data gives a timely reference on how well industry sectors are doing. Less timely is the reporting of revenues. However, it does show the total industry size.
Printing industry revenues remained relatively stable in recent years in Germany. After a slowdown from 2012 to 2015 there was some recovery until 2017 with a peak revenue just above €19 billion. Revenues slowed in 2018 again to €17.2 billion, although the decline reported by Eurostat seems quite strong and is not reflected in the data from the German printing industry association. This could lead to a revision once the data series is updated again.
Source: Eurostat, digitalprintexpert.de
This series on the impact of COVID-19 on printing industry production volumes in Europe will continue. Next time, we will have a look at the printing industry in the United Kingdom.