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Printing experiences steady decline, new report reveals

October 23, 2023  By PrintAction Staff

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 2018, the number of people employed by these printing businesses was 4.8 million. That number fell to 4 million in 2022, for a reduction of 14.8 per cent. The decline is consistent across all regions, according to report author Jon Harper Smith.

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 during the pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic further depressed the print and allied industries sector that were already experiencing a slow downward decline.

An additional factor that has affected staffing levels is the increased use of automation throughout the print industry which has allowed companies that have embraced these technologies to produce work at lower cost and with fewer staff. However, the additional investment has squeezed profitability at some companies.

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