The Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s first quarter 2012 CEIR Index Report indicated yet another quarter of positive growth in the trade show industry, with a 2.7-percent increase, compared with the same period last year.
The growth streak is in its seventh quarter straight and also continues to outperform the GDP’s rate of increase by 2 percent in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the same period in 2011.
Attendance led the four key metrics that CEIR tracks for the report, and all the metrics, including net square feet, number of exhibitors and real revenues, showed positive trends.
"The CEIR Index, released in March, reported that the leading indicator to look for in the exhibition industry recovery is an increase in professional attendance and attendance in the first quarter continues to lead improvement with 4.6 percent growth in the first quarter, compared to 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter in 2011,” said CEIR President and CEO Doug Ducate.
He added, “This is a very good indicator that the exhibition industry is clearly emerging from the recession and may begin to see consistent growth for the foreseeable future.”
The Consumer Electronics Association’s International CES helped add to the year-over-year increase in attendance numbers when it ran in January in Las Vegas.
The show not only drew a record number of attendees, but it also had a record number of exhibitors.
Karen Chupka, senior vice president, events and conferences for CEA, said at the time, “The 2012 International CES was the largest in show history and was bursting with innovation as the world’s most important technology event.”
Several other shows saw upticks in attendance numbers and other metrics in the first quarter of this year, including the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ World of Asphalt and AGG1 2012 shows, the Hearth Patio & Barbecue Association’s Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo (HPBExpo) 2012 and the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, owned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and produced by Reed Exhibitions, to name just a few.
"The first quarter results are very promising. They show that the exhibition industry is on the upswing despite a sluggish economy," said CEIR's economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates.
He added, "With seven consecutive quarters of growth now, we are even more confident of our predictions for the exhibition industry."
The CEIR Index showed that the year-on-year growth of attendees accelerated to 4.6 percent, compared with 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.
Net square feet followed with an increase of 3.4 percent, but was less than the growth of the 2011 fourth quarter, which reported 4.8 percent.
Both exhibitors and real revenues each increased slightly by 1.5 percent during the first quarter, following a 2.1 percent and 5.2 percent growth, respectively, in the preceding quarter.