Meeting Mentor Magazine

July 2020

CEIR Index

Exhibition Activity Declined 12.5% in 2009

The figures are in for 2009, and they’re not pretty. Exhibition activity declined 12.5 percent in 2009, according to the Annual CEIR Index compiled by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. The figure is more than four times the largest previous loss, which was recorded in 2008.

The CEIR Index combines metrics for net square feet, revenue, professional attendance and number of exhibiting companies. It also breaks down performance by industry segment; all 11 sectors — including the seemingly indestructible health care sector — declined in 2009.

While exhibitions have traditionally been resilient to economic downturns “the length, depth and reach of this recession made resistance impossible,” noted CEIR president and CEO Doug Ducate. “The concern today is not what happened in 2008 and 2009 but what organizers are doing to strengthen their events for future years.”

Because exhibitions are a “trailing indicator” of economic performance, “it will take time and a genuine economic recovery before the industry experiences sustained growth,” according to CEIR. That uptick could be swift. The industry’s last sustained decline ended in the second quarter of 2003; exhibitions and events performance had returned to pre-2000 levels by 2004, according to the Index.

Evidence that the worst is behind us is that fourth-quarter, year-over-year declines leveled off at 8.9 percent. The respective metrics for the quarter:
— Attendance: -4.1%
— Number of Exhibitors: -5.8%
— Net Square Feet: -12.3%
— Revenue: -13.2%

To obtain a copy of the entire study, visit — Pete Shure

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