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Print confidence improves but uncertainty remains

Confidence among printing business improved in the third quarter, but with a second wave of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and uncertainty over Brexit, concerns are expected to increase in Q4.

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Some 35% of printers increased output in the third quarter

These were among the key findings from the latest edition of the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) Printing Outlook survey, which looked at the UK market in Q3.

According to the report, the volume of output significant improved in Q3, with 35% of printers increasing output in the three months to the end of September.

However, just 22% were able to maintain a steady level of output, with 43% say they were adversely impacted by a decline in output.  

In terms of the main concerns among printing businesses in Britain, more than three-quarters of companies listed the economic impact of Covid-19 as among their top three worries.

Brexit ranked second with 45% of printers concerned over the uncertainty as to how this will impact operations, while 33% were worried about the survival of major customers in the current economic climate.

Some 31% raised concerns about competitors lowering their prices below cost, and 30% about heath and safety issued linked to Covid-19.

Focusing in more on Covid-19, almost half of respondent say they expect to make some redundancies as a result of the impact of the pandemic.

Many will be eager to put 2020 behind us, push a reset button and go again in 2021

Some 24% anticipate making between 1% and 5% of their workforce redundant before the end of the year, while 9% of firms face redundancies in the range of 6% to 10%.

A further 3% are set to lose between 11% and 15% of staff, and 4% of firms 16% to 20%.

Around 8% of companies anticipate losing more than 21% of their employees to redundancy before the end of December.

As such, the BPIF says up to 5,000 people working across print could be out of work within the next seven weeks.

BPIF economist Kyle Jardine comments: “The Brexit Transition Period will have ended by the time the next Printing Outlook survey goes live. On January 1st, 2021 we will have left the official transition.

“So far no trade deal has yet been made, so it would seem logical the government will implement a further internal transitioning period to help business and society adjust; but what we will be adjusting to? As yet that remains unclear.

“Recently much has been made of the one thing business least likes: uncertainty. Unfortunately this year we’ve had that in spades. Many will be eager to put 2020 behind us, push a reset button and go again in 2021.”

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