CEIR Index Year-end Results Indicate Trade Show Industry Growth Slowdown

March 18, 2013

The trade show industry started off last year with strong numbers, as tracked by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s Index, with continued growth of 2.4 percent in the first two quarters of the year, but the third and fourth quarters saw a slowdown, with 2012 ending with overall 1.5-percent growth.

The numbers missed CEIR’s initial projections of 2.9-percent year-over-year growth for 2012, compared with 2011. Even though the last two quarter’s numbers were down, they still marked 10 consecutive quarters of growth for the trade show industry.

While the results were positive, the numbers lagged behind the U.S. government GDP estimate of 2.2 percent growth for 2012.

"We had a positive outlook during the first and second quarters of 2012, however, the exhibition industry began to slump in the third quarter and continued through the end of the year,” said CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates.

He added, “We attribute this to the well-publicized prospect of the "fiscal cliff" which substantially hurt business sentiment and willingness to incur travel expenses and ultimately hurt the exhibition industry."

All four indices that are tracked in the CEIR Index were down in the fourth quarter, compared with the third quarter.

-       Attendance, the leading indicator, slowed from 1.3 percent to 1.0 percent.

-       Net Square Feet was down from 1.2 percent in the third quarter to 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

-       Exhibitors slowed from 0.5 percent to 0.2 percent.

-       Revenues, which were adjusted for inflation, slowed from 1.6 percent to 1.3 percent.

Some of the sectors that the CEIR Index predicted would perform well exceeded expectations, while other sectors that were expected to struggle had lower results than expected.

The Discretionary Consumer Services and Sporting Goods, Travel and Entertainment sectors had upticks, which both rely on consumer confidence, according to CEIR officials.

The state of the economy in the U.S. and worldwide will be a main topic of discussion when trade show industry professionals gather Sept. 12 in New York City for Predict: CEIR's Annual Outlook Conference 2013.

"Inspiring confidence in an unpredictable time will guide this year’s Predict conference," said CEIR CEO and President Doug Ducate, CEM, CMP.

He added, "As the key forecasting event in the exhibition industry, the data presented at Predict will provide the industry’s decision-makers with real-time and reliable information upon which to strategize in the coming year."

Executives will discuss operating strategies including projected event growth, merger and acquisition strategies and planned launches.

New this year will be special discussion session called, "Association Nation" that examines the unique challenges leading and up-and-coming associations are facing and what they are doing to be effective and relevant for their membership in an increasingly complex and changing world.

The co-chairs for the 2014 CEIR Predict are David Audrain, CEM, president and CEO Clarion Events, North America, and Dennis Slater, president, Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

The application to attend the high-level conference and registration process is now open at www.ceir.org/predict.


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