As goes the macro U.S. economy, so goes the business-to-business exhibition industry, according to the 2018 CEIR Index that was released April 12. The CEIR Total Index, which measures overall trade show industry performance, increased 2 percent in 2017, just behind the 2.3 percent increase in U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP. The Total Index increase is a full percentage point higher than what CEIR reported in 2016.
If this trend continues, trade shows should be in for a rosy year. CEIR expects the GDP will get a boost from a high rate of growth in spending on personal consumption and private investments, along with moderate government expenditures, leading to a projected 2.9 percent GDP increase in 2018.
“Optimism in the business environment and robust economic and job growth should continue to drive exhibitions,” says CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, PhD, chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates Inc. “The exhibition industry is expected to finally enter into an expansion phase in 2018 with the Total Index surpassing its previous peak.” CEIR does project that GDP growth will decelerate to 2.7 percent in 2019 and 2.5 percent in 2020, with exhibition growth rates tailing just behind the GDP.
As for the 2017 numbers, CEIR reports that all four of the main metrics it follows— net square feet of exhibit space sold, professional attendance, number of exhibiting companies, and gross revenue—were on the rise. The biggest winner was revenue, which rose 2.9 percent over 2016. Attendees and net square feet were up 2.1 percent and 2 percent, respectively, while exhibitors lagged with just a 1.1 percent gain.
For more information or to purchase the complete 2018 CEIR Index Report, go to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research website.