Exhibition Industry Posts Better-Than-Expected Growth

Here's good news for meetings: The exhibition industry "continues to flourish," according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), which yesterday released the fourth-quarter results of its CEIR Index research report, showing that the exhibition industry continues to grow at a rate faster than the overall U.S. economy.

Year over year, CEIR data show that overall exhibition industry activity increased by 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, and rose by 2.7 percent for the full year. Real GDP, meanwhile, grew by only 1.6 percent during the fourth quarter.

CEIR's forecast for 2011 was for 2.3 percent industry growth. Actual results, therefore, were 15 percent higher than expected.

"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 Inc.

The CEIR Index measures four exhibition industry metrics, including the number of exhibiting companies, which grew 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter; professional attendance, which grew 3.6 percent; revenue, which grew 5.1 percent; and net square feet of exhibit space sold, which grew 4.2 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 [CEIR Index]. This is very positive for the industry."