Revenues in the printing industry in Finland have been under pressure in recent years. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic did impact the printing industry (like other industry sectors) heavily, as well. Still, it is difficult to quantify the impact as the most recent revenue data Eurostat publishes still dates from 2018 only. Eurostat publishes the more timely 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 for Finland dates from June 2021.

During the height of the COVID-19 crisis in May 2020, the production volume index dropped to 62% of the 2015 production average. As volumes were down compared to 2015 before the pandemic, the drop amounts to 33% below the pre-coronavirus average. In contrast, the EU output (which excludes the UK production) dropped by 31% compared to the pre-pandemic average—although that low-point was already reached in April.

The steep drop led to a strong recovery in June and July. However, the recovery then stalled as the second and third wave of COVID-19 made more economic restrictions necessary. Output has remained at a lower level since. On average, the production index for the remainder of 2020 stayed about 9% below the pre-COVID values—which is in line with the European recovery averages. The monthly output numbers in the second half of 2020 remained quite stable with a slight improvement towards December. The latest set of statistical production data shows some revisions of previous data for Finland, however, and this might explain the noticeably lower values for 2021. The 2021 production data falls about 17% behind the pre-pandemic levels, again with a slight improvement towards the latest months. It is likely that some statistical revisions were applied to the 2021 numbers which makes judging the degree of recovery difficult.

Taking into account the decline and recovery, the 2020 print industry production is down by about 12% compared to 2019. Assuming a slight increase in prices, the revenue decline for 2020 over 2019 could be in the 10% 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.

After being relatively stable from 2009 to 2012, revenues in the Finnish printing industry declined until 2016. Over the period from 2012 to 2016, revenues declined by more than 20%. Afterward, the decline softened, and revenues stayed slightly above the €1 billion mark. Overall revenues declined by an annual average of 3.5% from 2009 to 2018.

2019 is expected to show some more declines according to production output data for 2019, possibly in the -5% range. 2020 can be expected to have a bigger decline, based on the 2020 production volumes during the pandemic.

Source: Eurostat,

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 Norway.