The Netherlands has the sixth 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 only from 2018. 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 the Netherlands dates from February 2021.

During the height of the COVID-19 crisis in April 2020, the production volume index dropped to 59% of the 2015 production average. As volumes were down compared to 2015 before the pandemic, the drop amounts to 38% below the pre-coronavirus average. In contrast, the EU output (which excludes 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 stalled. With the second wave of lockdowns kicking in, the output remained at a lower level since. On average, the production index stayed about 10% below the pre-COVID values—which is in line with the European recovery averages. February numbers are discouraging, however, as values dipped to under 80 again. 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 2020 print industry production is down by about 13% compared to 2019. Assuming a slight increase in prices the revenue decline for 2020 over 2019 could be in the 10 to 12% 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 the Netherlands did slide from €4.7 billion in 2009 for several years. Although not as impacted by the euro crisis as other countries, the Netherlands had one of the fastest declines in Europe. Since 2015, revenue stabilized somewhat at €3.4 billion. 2019 is expected to show a small decline, while 2020 can be expected to be noticeably lower, based on the low 2020 production volumes.

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 Belgium.