In October and November 2020, WhatTheyThink’s Business Outlook Survey asked print business executives and owners about their 2020 business conditions, business challenges, biggest perceived opportunities, and investment plans. We also asked about respondents’ opinions of virtual events, as well as their 2020 hiring plans. The results of this survey—and much much more—are included in WhatTheyThink’s Printing Outlook 2021 special report. For the next several weeks, we will be providing some top-level findings from that report.

Specifically, print industry revenues dropped -12.6% from 2019 to 2020, compared to +4.1% from 2018 to 2019. Next week, we will look at what our survey respondents anticipated for 2021, but suffice to say here, COVID hit a lot of businesses in and out of the printing industry quite hard. Still, many businesses did fairly well, and some even thrived—note that 20% said that revenues increased in 2020, and another 10% said they stayed about the same—so 2020 wasn’t universal carnage. Many were able to transition to new products that were in great demand and could keep themselves going, and in many cases the primary vertical markets that print businesses stayed open. Hardest hit, though, were those print businesses that primarily serve events, travel, tourism, and related. PPP funding helped a lot of print businesses (and their customers), and more may be on the way.

Get the Full Report

The complete Printing Outlook 2021 report includes all our survey data broken down by establishment size, as well as industry statistics from third-party sources, extensive macroeconomic commentary, industry trends to look for in 2021 and beyond, and our industry forecast to 2030. The report can be purchased in our eStore at