The printing industry in Bulgaria, 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 dates from 2018. 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 Bulgaria 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 higher in 2019 compared to 2015, the drop amounts to 27% 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 Bulgaria experienced a slightly more moderate decline

The steep drop led to a quick recovery until June, followed by a much slower increase until October. Later in 2020, there was some set-back, likely due to the second wave of coronavirus. 2021 started off better and despite some fluctuations the index slowly climbed and reached pre-COVID levels again. August 2021 even surpassed the pre- COVID average noticeably, although this might be a blip. Nevertheless, 2021 is set to be a decent year at almost pre- COVID production levels.

Taking into account the decline and recovery the 2020 print industry production is down by about 15% compared to 2019. Assuming a slight increase in prices the revenue decline for 2020 over 2019 could be in the 13% 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.

Revenues in printing and related services reached about €378 million in 2018 in Bulgaria, which is 5% up compared to 2017. Although there have been some ups and down, revenues did grow mostly steadily since 2009. In the period from 2009 to 2018, this represents an average annual increase of 3.3%.

The 2019 production index data did show some good growth compared to 2018 and the upswing from 2018 should continue. With 2020 noticeably affected by the pandemic some declines are to be expected. 2021 should make up for the revenue losses in 2020, however.

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 Turkey.