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Emilia-Romagna Craft sector economic report 2023

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Article by Unioncamere Emilia-Romagna

On 22nd of  December 2023, Unioncamere Emilia-Romagna presented the 2023 Report on the regional economy during a public event held at the headquarters of the Emilia-Romagna Regional government. The Report provides a detailed picture of the economic trend of the year that has come to an end and the forecasts for the following year.

A significant section is dedicated to the craft sector. Analysing the results that characterized the year 2023, various aspects emerged, which firstly denote the end of the expansion of the production activity of the region’s artisan manufacturing businesses which followed the containment of the COVID pandemic.

This situation, which recorded a 2.5 percent drop in production, was determined by the slowdown of the world trade and the negative effects on domestic demand due to the decrease of the disposable income caused by inflation and the restrictive monetary policy adopted by  the European Central Bank (ECB) to reduce price dynamics. The decline in the craft sector was heavier than the decline in regional industry production (-0.4 percent).

The negative result was determined by the domestic market, since between January and September 2023 foreign turnover increased by 1.3 percent.

For the future, the outlook appears decidedly negative given the weakness of the order acquisition process (-2.6 percent), whose trend has become negative since the beginning of the year.

A strong positive correlation has been confirmed between the economic trend and the size of businesses and it must be considered that among artisans there is a greater presence of smaller businesses.

Going into detail, in the field of construction craftsmanship, after eight quarters of uninterrupted expansion which started with the second quarter of 2021 and continued until the first three months of 2023, once the push of incentives for the energy requalification of buildings (so-called ” eco-bonus”) had been contained, the trend was abruptly reversed between spring and summer 2023. In the first nine months of the year there was a decline in the turnover at current prices of the construction craftsmanship of 1.1 percent compared to the same period of 2022, while the construction industry recorded an increase of ‘1.0 percent of turnover.

In construction, which represents the sector with the highest share of regional artisan businesses (41.3 percent), at the end of last September the number of active artisan businesses in construction fell to 50,428 units with a decrease of 679 businesses (-1.3 percent) compared to a year earlier. The performance of the entrepreneurial base was worse than that of the companies in the regional construction industry sector as a whole (-0.9 percent), whose entrepreneurial base fell by 615 companies, therefore with a change totally determined by the reduction of craft companies.

At the end of September, 45,226 artisan businesses were active in the services sector, representing 37.1 percent of the total regional ones ; they have decreased by 0.6 percent.

The most significant contribution to the negative trend came from land transport (-325 units, -3.8 percent), followed by reductions in catering activities (-103 companies), vehicle trade and repair and computer and personal and household gods repair. On the contrary, other personal services have recorded an increase (+115 companies, +0.9 percent), i.e. laundries, hairdressers, beauticians, funeral homes and wellness centres, cleaning and gardening companies, i.e. building services and landscape (+78 companies, +1.7 percent) and those active in information and communication (+62 companies, +3.4 percent).

As regards craft businesses in the industrial sector, by September 2023, 25,382 craft businesses were active, equal to 20.8 percent of the regional ones, which have decreased in one year (-2.7 percent, -711 units).

The trend towards a decrease in active businesses was dominant and present in all sectoral groupings taken into consideration by the economic survey. In particular, the reduction of the entrepreneurial base was determined by the large and rapid decline in the fashion sector (-249 companies, -5.8 percent) and by the more contained and slower cut of metallurgy and metalworking companies ( -136 units, -2.1 percent), as well as the regional subcontracting sector. Also noteworthy is the impact of the decrease in companies in the wood and furniture industry (-90 companies, -3.7 percent).

The Report is written in Italian language.

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