Meeting Mentor Magazine

March 2024

CEIR 2016 Report

Exhibition Industry Hopes to Continue
To Outperform U.S. Economy

Can the exhibition industry continue to outperform the U.S. economy as it has for four straight quarters and by a wide margin? The 2016 CEIR Index Report (from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research) points in that direction.

A “robust” 2015 — when the total CEIR Index increased, as did all four metrics of net square footage of exhibit space sold, professional attendance, number of exhibiting companies and total event gross revenue — is now in the rear-view mirror. The 2016 report projects about the same growth this year, or slightly weaker as the trade gap further widens. It also sees continued strong job growth, reduced household debt levels and low inflation. It does cite “many economists” placing odds of a recession in 2016 at about 20 percent, while international forecasters identify persistent weakness in the global economy. And the prolonged election season in the U.S. adds to the uncertainty.

“Rapidly changing consumer, industrial and service markets tend to boost traffic at associated exhibitions,” noted the report, “while currently static sectors such as Business Services; Education; and Financial, Legal and Real Estate tend to see sluggish growth.” The best performing sectors in 2015 were Machinery and Finished Business Outputs (+12.9%) and Building, Construction, Home & Repair (10.1%), while the weakest sector was Government (-1.3%).

Looking ahead:
• Over the past 15 years, total exhibition attendance has been highly correlated with overall non-farm payroll employment, and over 2010-2015, attendance rose even faster. As employment grows over the next three years, exhibition attendance should keep pace.
• Exhibition performance will accelerate to 2.7% in 2017 and 3% in 2018 as the economy continues to improve. “This performance represents the fastest sustained growth in the history of the CEIR index,” said CEIR economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc. “By 2018, the total index of the overall exhibition industry is expected to climb above its previous peak in 2007 by about 3.5%.”
• Real exhibition revenues, while still below the pre-recession peak in 2007, will continue to recover strongly through 2018.

An update to the forecast will be presented at CEIR Predict conference Sept. 14-15 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

Click here to purchase the 2016 CEIR Index Report, which is $750 for members of the International  Association of Exhibitions and Events and CEIR and $1,000 for nonmembers. Click here to purchase a combination of the Index and Census for $1,250; nonmembers $1,750.

Coming from CEIR: A new Event Performance Calculator, sponsored by the Society of Independent Show Organizers. With this tool, show organizers can input their historical data and compare their show’s performance (net square footage, number of exhibitors, number of attendees and total revenue) with the overall business sector.— Maxine Golding

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