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BPIF expects confidence to fall in Q1

The British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) has forecast a further decline in confidence in the print industry for the first quarter of 2021, though the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in the UK could provide hope moving forward.

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Almost half of printers expect output levels to decline in Q1

In the latest edition of its Printing Outlook report, the BPIF says only 29% of UK print companies saw output levels increase in the final quarter of 2020, with 33% seeing steady output and 38% reporting declines.

Looking to Q1, while 21% of printers expect output to increase, 45% forecast a drop in activity, while 34% predict they will remain at a similar level.

While some of this decline is due to the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, the BPIF says it is also partly due to a normal, season downturn in Q1, primarily within the packaging market.

However, while confidence is likely to remain low in the coming months, the BPIF says the successful roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines should provide hope to printers, with this, coupled with a decline in infection rates, allowing more businesses to reopen towards the spring and summer months.  

“The economic climate has been challenging - high levels of debt will force adjustments, and investment – which has been weak for a while now – will require support if productivity is to improve,” BPIF economist Kyle Jardine says.

The high level of uncertainty should start to fade as the vaccine roll-out progresses and businesses progress past the Brexit-related turmoil

“However, the high level of uncertainty should start to fade as the vaccine roll-out progresses and businesses progress past the Brexit-related turmoil.”

Other key findings in the Printing Outlook report include the main concerns for business, with 62% of respondents naming the economic impact of Covid-19 as among their top three concerns.

Some 44% were worried about the survival of major customers, while 44% also raised concerns about their competitors pricing below cost.

In terms of issues related to Brexit in particular, 60% of companies said that the security of the supply chain was among their top three concerns, while 55% cited non-tariff barriers ad 49% general cost inflation as worries.

On the flip side, in terms of the opportunities created by Brexit, 48% of printers said onshoring was one of their main three prospects, while 47% highlighted home-grown support as a plus point.

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