The report features the results of the WhatTheyThink Printing Industry Business Outlook Survey conducted in Fall 2020, and includes current and expected business conditions, top business challenges, top business opportunities, and planned investments for 2020. Additional questions asked about respondents’ attitudes toward—and attendance at—virtual events, as well as shops’ hiring plans for the next 12 months.


  • More than one-fourth (28%) of print businesses surveyed said that revenues for 2020 had decreased more than 25% compared to 2019.
  • On the other hand, 10% said that revenues had stayed basically the same, and, for a happy 12%, revenues increased in 2020 compared to 2019. How did they manage that?
  • The pandemic is on everyone’s mind: the number one business challenge this survey is “regaining business lost due to COVID,” selected by 55% of respondents, with number two being “keeping my employees safe from COVID,” selected by 40% of respondents.
  • The industry seems to be in “hunker down and wait out the storm” mode: improving economic conditions” is the top opportunity, cited by 50% of respondents, followed by “national recovery from COVID-19,” cited by 48% of respondents. One new opportunity we added—“producing post-COVID print materials” was only selected by 11% of respondents.
  • One-fourth (24%) of our respondents have no planned investments for 2021—although, in our pre-COVID 2019 survey, 32% said they had no planned investments for 2020.
  • One-half of our respondents have hiring plans for 2021.