Printing industry shrinks nearly 15% to 2022

Printing industry shrinks nearly 15% to 2022

The number of printing and allied industries establishments and the number of employees across all regions are currently declining, according to The Future of Printer Demographics to 2028, a new report from Smithers. The pandemic, the impact of automation and the decline of the commercial and publishing sectors are driving the drop in printing establishments that Smithers estimates at 11.9%, falling from 667,630 in 2018 to 587,934 in 2022.
In 2018, the number of people employed by these printing businesses was 4.8 million. That number fell to 4.0 million in 2022, for a reduction of 14.8%. The decline is consistent across all regions, according to report author Jon Harper Smith.
Commercial and Publishing Sectors
The commercial and publishing sectors were in decline prior to the start of the review period (2022-2028) as consumers chose to adopt a more online experience, with some sectors such as newspapers, magazines and physical advertising print hit particularly hard. There are some exceptions to this, for example books, which saw a positive growth from the pandemic despite the wide availability of e-readers; however, the general downward trend had already been established by the start of the review period of this report.
Impact of the Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a further downturn in demand, with enforced lockdown in many countries reducing the appetite for physical print in many of its forms and catalysing the move towards even greater use of online content. There were some sectors that were less affected including Covid-related signage and books, albeit that efficient production of the latter tends to favour new startup companies that have embraced print on demand digital printing. The overall effect of the pandemic was to further depress the print and allied industries sector that were already experiencing a slow downward decline.
Many economies were starting to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic during 2021, however the war in Ukraine that started in early 2022 led to an energy crisis that caused a large spike in inflation and a loss of consumer confidence leading to reduced domestic spending in most economies. This had the effect of stifling much of any potential recovery in many sub sectors within print, and it is unlikely that the sectors that are most affected by these global factors will recover in the foreseeable future.
Automation Affects Staffing
An additional factor that has affected staffing levels is the increased use of automation throughout the print industry which has allowed those companies that have embraced these technologies to produce work at lower cost and with fewer staff. However, investment in these technologies comes at a price and although efficiency is improved the additional investment has squeezed profitability at some companies.
There is generally an imbalance between the reduction in the number of operational enterprises and the number of associated employees. There is a range of factors at play here, with some staff reductions due to redundancy to offset a fall in demand, some due to increased operational efficiency enabled by automation and some due to older, and generally skilled, staff retiring early and leaving the industry, with the latter likely to cause some degree of skill shortage in coming years.
Leaders by Geography
Asia is the largest region in the world in the printing and allied industries sector with 64.4% of the establishments operating in this sector and 62.1% of the employees in 2022. The number of establishments in the region as an overall percentage fell slightly from 2018 when it represented 65.2% of the total, however the number of employees increased as a world percentage. However, it should be noted that these figures reflect slightly slower decline in Asia than in most other regions, and that the number of operational establishments and associated staff in all regions fell significantly between 2018 and 2022.
Western Europe is the second largest region as measured by the number of operational establishments in this sector with 13.7% of the total in 2022 and reported a slower decline than other regions with 82,347 companies in 2018 falling to 80,706 in 2022, a drop of 2.0%. The number of associated employees also fell although with a regional reduction of 9.2% over the review period, the fall is still significant.

Find out more

Download The Future of Printer Demographics to 2028 brochure

Latest Resources

See all resources