Weak Second Half Slows Tradeshow Industry in 2012

A study by a tradeshow industry research firm shows that exhibitions slowed down significantly during the second half of 2012. The group suggests sequestration is at least partly to blame.

The tradeshow industry started strong in 2012 but couldn’t keep it up through the entire year.

Many of your shows did quite well, particularly in the first half. The key now is to see if we can sustain it.

That’s the key assessment of a new Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) report, the findings of which were announced earlier this week.

Even though the first half of 2012 saw an increase in industry activity of 2.5 percent, overall growth for the year was only 1.5 percent. CEIR’s original projection for 2012 was 2.9 percent, but a weak second half sent results downward.

“The reality is that 2012 wasn’t the good, robust year we’d hoped it would be,” CEIR President and CEO Doug Ducate said in announcing the findings at the Society of Independent Show Organizers CEO Summit in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

What caused the decline and what can we expect for coming years? More details:

The root cause: According to the study, 11 out of 14 industry sectors reported positive growth during 2012. The three sectors that saw declines were education; government; and building, construction, home, and repair. CEIR economist Allen Shaw said the looming fiscal cliff slowed growth down. “We attribute this to the well-publicized prospect of the ‘fiscal cliff,’ which substantially hurt business sentiment and willingness to incur travel expenses, and ultimately hurt the exhibition industry,” he said. (Many government conferences were directly affected by sequestration threats in late 2012, especially in the military sector.)

Going strong: On the other hand, financial, legal, and real estate events saw 7.4 percent growth. Transportation, as well as communications and information technology, also showed strong numbers. “Many of your shows did quite well, particularly in the first half,” Ducate said. “The key now is to see if we can sustain it.”

Future forecast: According to Ducate, hopes are high for 2014 and 2015, but this year could reflect 2012. He said the tradeshow industry’s growth will depend on whether  any “grand bargain” reached by Congress and President Obama to resolve the country’s budget issues will slow down the economy.


Anita Ferrer

By Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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