The printing industry in Romania, like in several other Eastern European countries, showed some growth in the last decade. Yet 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—and for Romania only from 2017. 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 Romania dates from August 2021.
During the height of the COVID-19 crisis in April 2020, the production volume index dropped to 85% of the 2015 production average. As volumes were already up in 2019 compared to 2015, the drop amounts to 25% 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 Romania experienced a slightly more moderate decline
The steep drop led to a recovery from May to September, but already in October the recovery slowed, likely due to the second wave of COVID. The last two months of 2020 did bring anther uptick. 2021 started off sluggishly, however, with the index dropping again. Since then the index slowly moved up, despite some fluctuations. Still the production index remains noticeably below pre-pandemic levels and in 2021 the index was on average 19% below pre-pandemic output. Since the height of the pandemic, the printing industry in Romania performed below the EU average, which remained about 13% below pre-pandemic levels.
Taking into account the decline and recovery the 2020 print industry production is down by about 17% compared to 2019. Assuming a slight increase in prices the revenue decline for 2020 over 2019 could be in the 15% 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, although 2018 data for Romania has not been published yet.
The revenue in printing and related services reached about €763 million in 2017 in Romania, which is slightly up compared to 2016. Although there has been a bit of ups and down, revenues did grow mostly steadily since 2009. In the period from 2009 to 2017 this represents an average annual increase of 2.6%.
2018 and 2019 production index data did show some decline compared to 2017, however. It is likely that full revenues, once published, will show a new negative trend. With 2020 noticeably affected by the pandemic further declines are to be expected. Although the reminder of 2021 might bring some more production increases, even 2021 should be flat at best.
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 Bulgaria.