Spain accounts for the fifth 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 Eurostat publishes still dates from 2018 only. As a more timely, series Eurostat publishes a production index for printing and recorded media, which gives an indication of how production volumes developed, based on 2015 averages. The most recent data point for Spain dates from January 2021.

During the height of the COVID-19 crisis in April 2020, the production volume index dropped to only 34% of the 2015 production average, which is by far the lowest value of all European countries. As volumes were already down compared to 2015 before the pandemic, the drop amounts to a 60% drop below the pre-coronavirus average. Spain went into a strict lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic, being one of the worst-hit countries during that time. Therefore, the drop until April was severe. In contrast, the EU output (which excludes the UK production) dropped by 31% compared to the pre-pandemic average.

The steep drop led to a strong recovery from May to July, but then the recovery slowed reaching a level in November of only 10% below the pre-pandemic level. With the second wave of lockdowns kicking in, the output started to slide again (based on seasonally adjusted data). In the latest reported months, the production index fell to -20% below the pre-COVID-19 values—which is lower than most other European recovery numbers. A further decline is not expected, however. A sturdy recovery will depend on industry and service sectors currently shut down or impeded kicking in again. A lack of tourism is especially hitting the economy.

Taking into account the decline and recovery, the 2020 print industry production is down by about 18% compared to 2019. Assuming a slight increase in prices the revenue decline for 2020 over 2019 could be in the 15% range.

Source: Eurostat

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 for Spain dropped from €7.8 billion in 2009 in the aftermath of the euro crisis to a relatively stable level of close to €5.6 billion for several years. 2018 did see a slight uplift to €5.8 billion. 2019 should have brought some decline, but Eurostat has not published the data yet.

Source: Eurostat,

This series on the impact of COVID-19 on printing industry production volumes in Europe will continue. Next up: the printing industry in Portugal.