Report: Exhibition Industry in the Midst of Major Upswing

After a weak third quarter, the exhibition industry “significantly improved” in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), which yesterday released the fourth-quarter results of its CEIR Index research report.

The report finds that overall exhibition-industry growth totaled 3 percent in the fourth quarter, up from just 0.4 percent in the third quarter and 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. The increase — the 14th consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth — was the highest since the first quarter of 2012, when growth was 3.2 percent.

“The exhibition industry has survived and emerged from the Great Recession and we are confident that the upswing will continue,” CEIR economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates Inc., said in a statement.

According to CEIR, the exhibition industry outperformed the overall economy by 0.3 percent, with real GDP growing 2.7 percent during fourth quarter compared to exhibitions’ 3 percent.

“With the fourth quarter’s results and 14 consecutive quarters of growth, and our predictions closely matching outcomes, we are confident in the continued growth and progress of the industry,” Shaw continued. “Additionally, in line with our expectations as published in the 2012 CEIR Index Report, the total index increased by a modest 1 percent for 2013 for the year as a whole, just slightly below the 1.1 percent forecasted growth.”

Along with overall performance, the CEIR Index measures year-over-year performance in four industry metrics: attendance, which grew 5.8 percent; revenue, which grew 3.6 percent; net square feet of exhibit space sold, which fell 0.5 percent; and exhibiting companies, which grew 3 percent.

Among 14 key industry sectors, heavy industry posted the strongest gains, according to CEIR President and CEO Brian Casey. “Performance varied by industry, and the top performing sector was Industrial/Heavy Machinery and Finished Business Inputs (ID), where the index increased by 6.9 percent,” he said. “In contrast, the weakest sector was Government (GV), where the index declined. This was not surprising since the industry was negatively affected by government budget cuts impacting trade shows.”

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