When discussing the changes we have seen in the market with our customers, and whether the volume of pages produced in the office will return to pre-pandemic levels – I am able to share some indication of the trends from analysis we started in early 2020.
I think it may be useful for our channel to benefit from the top line statistics which show the broad trends thus far, and we can update monthly to show how the trend is moving..
Obviously, our customer base changes with events in the market – companies are bought, and sold, there are mergers and some retirements, but the broad trend is still valuable.
Here are the baseline facts;
PAE Business support and manages devices across the EMEA region, however just over 98% of the page volume is in Western Europe. These volumes are managed by a wide variety of businesses within our channel of some 700 organisations. We have used November 2019 to benchmark as our last “old normal” month.
In November 2019 monitored devices produced 1,052,845,276 pages.
Less than 6 months later by April 2020, we were in the midst of the first lockdown. As a result the number of pages output had reduced by a staggering 65.7% to 34.3% of the November 2019 total. This was like for like in terms of our customer base.
Fast (slow) forward to November 2020, a year on from our benchmark month and the volume had recovered and was at 86.2% of the November 2019 total… great news.
Into 2021 where we saw a resurgence of Covid 19 into the New Year and lockdowns once again emerge across Europe.
The impact was immediate – in February 2021 the page volume was down to 62.3 of the November 2019 total, a short month perhaps but January was only at 63.4% so definitely the pandemic affecting activity in the office. The summer of 2021 saw the corporate world waking up. PAE Business returned to the office and had to get larger premises as we had grown in period between moving to working from home and returning to the office. This was reflected in a steady increase in the page volumes across our base growing steadily every month except August until November 2021 when it reached the highest point in two years at 91.4% of our benchmark.
So nearly up to date and December 2021 was the month of the Omicron Variant – everyone feared the worst but thankfully it was milder than expected and the market seemed to shrug and carry on. As a result the January and February figures were only 81% and 80% respectively but that is nearly 20% higher than where we were in the same period 12 months earlier.
The signs are encouraging but given the situation in Ukraine and the recent developments in Shanghai I think it would be rash to forecast where the market will be by November 2022.
Phil Madders – Managing Director, PAE Business