Weak Growth Continues in February;
Fastest 50 Shows Mostly in the Black
Oceanside, CA – A major month for the trade show industry yielded weak gains in all three statistical categories, including growth at the largest February shows surveyed for the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics.
There were 23 shows featured in the survey of February shows. Nine of those shows were large enough to be included in the TSE Gold 100 rankings of largest U.S. exhibitions. In addition, five shows made the latest TSE Fastest 50, which consists of shows that reflected the highest growth rates in 2012.
The Fastest 50 shows, which will be feted in May at the TSE Fastest 50 Awards & Summit in Chicago, continued on their aggressive growth path, and two — Offprice and the International LCT Show for the limousine, charter and tour industry — reported across-the-board gains in all three metrics.
As a group, the 23 Dashboard shows performed much as shows have for the past several months — modest growth without significant backtracking in terms of exhibit space, exhibitors and attendance. Exhibit space led the way with a 2.6% increase over the previous February. Attendance ticked up 1.9% and the exhibitor count crept up 0.4%.
The adjusted totals included a hefty 4,315,407 net square feet (nsf) of exhibit space, 14,261 exhibitors and 314,306 attendees. That worked out to an average of 205,496 nsf per show, plus 679 exhibitors and 14,967 attendees.
On an individual basis, there were 13 of 23 shows that were 100,000 nsf or larger. Five shows reported declines in all three metrics and seven reported either growth or no change across the board.
MAGIC, WOC Leads the Way
The flying carpet known as MAGIC continued to fly high as a flagship of the apparel industry, although the metrics included a rare step backward in the exhibitor count. Advanstar Communications, Inc. reported a 2.1% increase in exhibit space to 887,321 nsf and attendance jumped 5.8% to 65,822. The number of exhibitors, however, fell (3.3)% to 3,713.
The crowd might not have noticed there were 128 fewer exhibitors this year since attendees were kept as busy as always with a full calendar of fashion shows, educational sessions and after-hours parties. MAGIC can be seen as an indicator of the retail sector’s strength.
Sentiment that the construction industry was picking up steam was reflected in a successful World of Concrete (WOC) in Las Vegas.Hanley Wood Exhibitions said it sold 605,681 nsf of exhibit space, which was about 53,000 nsf more than in 2012. “And exhibitors were so pleased they booked more than 60% of the 2013 exhibit space for the 2014 show,” said Show Director Jackie James. “Our international attendance continued to grow as well, as was seen in the increased number of international delegations for WOC 2013.”
Participation in the U.S. government’s International Buyer Program was credited with beefing up the overseas crowd at WOC. The show has been part of the program for eight years, which has in turn helped attract U.S. exhibitors seeking exports to nations where construction has been booming.
World of Concrete enjoyed an overall 10.1% increase in the exhibitor tally to 1,286. Attendance was up 5.3% to 54,869.
- Global Pet Expo reported a record year for exhibit space. The show floor in Orlando stretched 268,600 nsf, up 8.0% from last year. Solid increases of 9.6% in attendance and 7.6% in exhibitors were also reported. The steady growth, which put Global Pet Expo at No. 75 on the TSE Gold 100, has been fueled by the current burst of creativity in the pet product market, which included about 3,000 new products launched at the show. “There is no argument that this industry continues to grow,” Show Director Andrew Darmohraj said. “There is no better place for exhibitors to showcase their products.”
- American Academy of Forensic Sciences Annual Scientific Meeting was a small but still-lively event. More than 5,000 attendees turned out in Washington for the educational sessions and to peruse the latest in cause-of-death and investigative technology. The Washington hotel event produced double-digit gains in all three metrics. Exhibit space grew to 18,500 nsf, a 33.1% increase over the 2012 meeting in Atlanta.
- National Automobile Dealers Association/American Truck Dealers Convention & Expo. Exhibit space soared 15.4% to 299,000 nsf, reflecting the surge in auto sales aided by cheap financing and pent-up demand. There was a 6.7% increase in exhibitors, but attendance in Orlando was (5.2)% below what it was last year in Las Vegas. The event was ranked 89th on the most recent Gold 100.
Not even a paralyzing blizzard could take the fun out of the American International Toy Fair. A February snowstorm blustered its way through much of the Northeast, including New York City, where the Toy Fair opened on time as it always had in its 110-year history. There were a number of attendees who could not make it to opening day due to airline cancellations and other travel hassles, but things were humming smoothly by the time the show closed February 13.
The show floor was a record 375,917 nsf, up 2.0% from last Winter. Attendance was indeed down by (2.3)% but still exceeded 25,000 and included a 4% increase in international visitors.
“The continued growth of international attendance is a strong trend for the Toy Fair,” said Marion Bossard, vice president of meetings and events for the Toy Industry Association. “Our on-site resources for the global audience were well-received and many visitors from abroad said we were a must-visit destination for next year.”
Hosts with the Most
It was a busy February in Las Vegas. Six Dashboard shows were held in the city totaling 2,020,707 nsf. The month’s events included MAGIC and WOC plus one other Gold 100/Fastest 50 event, The Rental Show. Three Gold 100 shows took place in Orlando, which together spanned 884,764 nsf. Indianapolis was third on the list with two shows totaling 449,400 nsf.
Will March be a lion or a lamb in terms of growth? In the next issue of TSE, the Dashboard will look at the statistics from major trade shows such as the Mid-America Trucking Show and Techtextil North America.
Some significant medical meetings were also on the early-Spring calendar, including the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in Chicago and Pittcon – The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry & Applied Spectroscopy.
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