The printing industry in Austria remained relatively stable 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. 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 for Austria dates from July 2021.
During the height of the COVID-19 crisis in April 2020, the production volume index dropped to 57% of the 2015 production average. As volumes were slightly down compared to 2015 already before the crisis, the drop amounts to 37% below the pre-coronavirus average. In contrast, the EU output (which excludes the UK production) dropped by 31% compared to the pre-pandemic average, which indicates that the printing industry in Austria suffered slightly more than the average.
The steep drop led to a strong recovery from May to July, but already in August the recovery slowed, likely due to the second wave of COVID. For the reminder of 2020, the production index stayed on average about 14% below the pre-pandemic levels. 2021 started off even worse with the index being about 20% lower in the first four months due to the prolonged lockdown. Again, in this period, the printing industry in Austria performed below the EU average, which remained about 13% below pre-pandemic levels. Finally, in May 2021, production levels increased rapidly with July being roughly at pre-pandemic levels again. It is too early to tell whether the upswing is going to continue or whether there will be another set-back in the reminder of 2021. However, the printing industry showed good resilience by bouncing back so quickly after the most restrictions had been lifted.
Taking into account the decline and recovery, 2020 print industry production is down by about 14% compared to 2019. Assuming a slight increase in prices, the revenue decline for 2020 over 2019 could be in the 12% 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.
The revenue in printing and related services reached almost €1.8 billion in 2018 in Austria, which is slightly up compared to 2017. Prior to that, the printing industry production values remained quite stable with a slight downward trend. On average, revenues dropped 1.8% per year since 2009, which is better than most other Western European countries did.
2019 is expected to show some declines according to production output data for 2019, which could be above the average decline rate seen before. 2020 can be expected to have a strong decline, based on the 2020 production volumes during the pandemic.
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 Greece.