Chart of the week: How print applications fared in 2020

After a lot of speculation, finally the first sets of (real) numbers are out on how different print applications fared in 2020. The German printing industry association (BVDM) just published their 2020 print industry stats. The faint hearted should be warned – it is no pretty picture, however not unexpected.

How print applications fared in 2020 versus 2019
2020 vs 2019 revenue by application – Germany

Overall print revenues declined by 11.5% to €10.8 bn. This is somewhat in the expected range. There are some interesting details in the distribution, however.

  • Given a lockdown lasting for quite a while I would have expected posters to decline more but it seems that Covid-signage made up for some losses.
  • Catalogues and mailings should have done better in a lockdown and with shops closed. Yet many printers and mail operators reported declines early on. Accordingly, the -9.7% decline in Mailings is not that bad
  • Newspapers held up better than expected – doing better than the print industry average
  • Book revenues are low – it seems that the second lockdown with bookshops having to close in many German states for a prolonged time had a negative impact. Unlike in most European countries the German book publisher association already reported book sales being down for 2020. Still a 8.5% drop seems high.
  • Labels was the only segment with growth (albeit small). Accordingly, packaging should have done well in 2020
  • Other (often non-paper based) print did relatively well – as in recent years. This is an ongoing trend of revenue moving away from “classic” print applications in all kind of specialty and niche print.

This is how print applications fared in Germany 2020. I am curious to see results from other countries. While the overall trends will be similar, surely there will be some noticeable country differences.

This is the start of a series of short articles based on print industry and communication trends. Come back for more at

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