Center for Exhibition Industry Research Report Indicates Trade Show Industry Activity Increased 2.7 Percent in 2011; 3.8 Percent in Q4 2011

February 20, 2012

In the latest Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s CEIR Index Report not only did the fourth quarter end with a 3.8-percent increase in overall trade show industry activity, compared with the same time period last year, but the industry also saw an overall 2.7-percent increase in 2011, compared with 2010.

The trade show industry also continues to score better numbers than the GDP, which only grew 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

In all, the trade show industry outperformed GDP for three of the four quarters during 2011 and by 1 percent for the year, with the GDP growing 1.7 percent.

"The positive momentum of the exhibition industry, which has experienced six consecutive quarters of growth, gives strong reassurance that the industry has emerged from the economic downturn and is making progress toward recovery,” said CEIR’s economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates.

In the past, the trade show industry typically has been a lagging indicator to the rest of the economy, but current numbers seem to be bucking that trend for now.

In fact, 2011 closed out with several shows reporting double-digit increases in attendance growth, as well as other metrics.

For example, the SEMA Show, held Nov. 1-4 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in conjunction with Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, attracted approximately 135,000 attendees and 2,100 exhibitors spanning 950,000 square feet of exhibit space.

The 35th annual event boasted an 11-percent increase in exhibitors and a 10-percent increase in size, compared with 2010, when the event drew 114,000 attendees.

Other events, such as the International Association of Exhibitions and Events' annual meeting and  Hanley Wood Exhibitions’ International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo also saw upticks.

CEIR Index data for the fourth quarter of 2011 shows increases in all four metrics of measurement: net square feet grew 4.2 percent; revenue grew 5 percent; attendance grew 3.6 percent; and exhibiting companies grew 2.4 percent.

"We are very pleased with the results we are seeing,” said CEIR President and CEO Doug Ducate. “The data continues to show a positive upswing and confirms the prediction of moderate growth made in last year’s Index. This is very positive for the industry and the individual sectors."


The 2011 CEIR Index will be published this spring and will detail the exhibition industry’s progress, long-term comparisons and predictions for the next three years, according to CEIR officials.

This year also is off to a strong start with several shows, including International CES, The Show Show, NAMM Show, the Professional Convention Management Association’s annual meeting, the National Retail Federation’s show and many more all seeing big increases, with some even breaking records.

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