According to the Bank of Italy survey conducted last spring, in 2018 the sales of industrial and private non-financial service firms with at least 20 workers slowed significantly. This was due both to the weakening of domestic demand, which had already been anticipated in the previous wave of the survey, and to the unexpected progressive worsening of the international business cycle. On average, sales prices grew at a slower pace, after the acceleration observed in 2017; however, taking into account firms' turnover, the share of firms that reduced their prices decreased further, while the share of those that increased them by at least 2 per cent rose. According to firms' expectations, both sales and prices will grow at a slow pace in 2019. Labour demand increased in 2018 as a whole.
In 2018 investment expenditure rose, at constant prices, at a pace similar to that of the previous year, driven mostly by investment by medium-sized firms. According to firms' plans, total expenditure in 2019 would remain at the levels of 2018. Significant investment plans by large firms, which contributed little to overall investment expenditure in recent years, would compensate the planned reduction by small and medium-sized firms, which have supported it since 2016.
The output of construction firms with at least 10 workers started to increase again in 2018, after a long period of contraction. The positive performance of activity in private construction was offset by the further decrease in public works.
Note: (1) Does not include the construction sector. Total expenditure on tangible assets and on software and databases and mineral exploration; calculated at constant prices using deflators found in the survey. Statistics weighted by firm distribution and investment spending. Dotted lines indicate firms' expectations for 2019.
Reference period: 2018