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Exhibit Space Grows 3.7% in July
to Offset Rare Dip in Attendance Metrics

Darlene Gudea
, President

Carol Andrews
, Editor-at-Large

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
September 2, 2013

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Oceanside, CA – Attendance figures, which had led growth in the trade show industry during the Second Quarter, continued to cool off in July and plunged into negative territory for the first time this year, according to the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics. Shows serving the education, medical and tech sectors reflected the biggest attendance drops, bringing down the growth averages.

The attendance totals for the July 2013 trade shows fell (2.8)% from their July 2012 counterparts, reversing an upward trend. Attendance had enjoyed a three-month growth spurt. In the month earlier — June 2013 — attendance climbed 3.2% over June 2012, and attendance at Second Quarter shows were up 4.0%.

The dip in overall attendance spoiled an otherwise upbeat month for trade shows. The Dashboard revealed exhibit space perked up 3.7% and the number of exhibitors climbed 2.0%.

Big Wins, Big Losses

Separating the advancers from the decliners showed a stark contrast in the direction in which shows were headed this Summer. Advancing shows showed robust gains in all three metrics, particularly in terms of exhibit sales. Exhibit space and the number of exhibiting organizations both jumped 8.3% from the previous July. Attendance was up a more-modest 3.9%, but that still beat the overall July metric.

The metrics for impacted shows were also fairly dramatic with attendance off (10.2)% from 2012 and the exhibitor count down (7.4)%. Exhibit space retreated (4.5)%. Combing both groups smoothed out the peaks and valleys, except for attendance, as noted earlier. 

The Average Show

There were 20 shows surveyed for the July Dashboard. Three of the events were excluded from some categories of the adjusted totals due to major spikes in attendance or a lack of data. The result was an adjusted total exhibit space of 2,631,703 net square feet (nsf), 11,872 exhibitors and 293,629 attendees. The per-show average came out to be 138,511 nsf of exhibit space, 625 exhibitors and 16,313 attendees.

Of the 20 shows surveyed, half exceeded 100,000 nsf in size. Five of those were large enough rank on the TSE Gold 100 roster of largest U.S. trade shows. Six shows made the most recent TSE Fastest 50 rankings of fastest-growing exhibitions.

The top industry sectors in the month of July were heavily retail-based, with the majority of shows serving the sporting goods, food and gift industries.

Emerald Gem

The largest show featured in the July Dashboard was Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, a marquee event in the portfolio of the former Nielsen Expositions, now under new ownership and renamed Emerald Expositions.

Outdoor Retailer turned in some impressive results for the new proprietors. The show enjoyed increases in exhibit space and attendance as well as a double-digit jump in the number of exhibitors.

Exhibit space reached a record 516,000 nsf, a 4.8% increase over last year. The number of exhibitors shot up 11.4% to 1,333, and attendance grew 1.1% to 27,010 despite tighter restrictions this year on non-exhibitor attendees.

Kenji Haroutunian, show director and vice president of Emerald Expositions, said the outdoor sporting goods market in the U.S. is booming, which fueled competition at the retail level and made Outdoor Retailer a must-attend event. “Innovation continues to drive consumer interest, which is the engine that keeps this industry and this show humming,” he said.

Earlier this year, Outdoor Retailer committed to remaining in Salt Lake City through 2016, but of this year’s 516,000 nsf of exhibit space, 92,000 nsf was housed in temporary pavilions. In addition to its home run with the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Emerald Expositions was the leader in net sf managed, followed by AMC, Inc. and the Institute of Food Technologists.

Growth Leaders

  • Texworld USA sold out its show floor well in advance of the July version of the semi-annual expo and reported hefty increases in two of three metrics. Exhibit space shot up 41% to 16,253 nsf and the number of exhibitors rose 34% to 438. “We were pleased with the increase in exhibit space and exhibitors,” said John Gallagher, president and CEO of Messe Frankfurt, Inc. Attendance reached 5,292, but growth was virtually flat over last year. Texworld USA is co-located at the Jacob K. Javits Center with two other Messe Frankfurt textiles shows, including the International Apparel Sourcing Show and Home Textiles Sourcing Expo. The 2012 show was heralded as one of the fastest-growing shows in the U.S. at Trade Show Executive’s Fastest 50 Awards & Summit in May 2013 and is almost surely in the running for an award in 2014.
  • IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo also sold out its exhibit space and reported a 31.4% increase in attendance. “This was one of our best meetings,” said Barbara Byrd Keenan, executive vice president of the Institute of Food Technologists. “The event brought together some of the brightest minds in food science here in Chicago.” The show, which was already on the TSE Fastest 50 rankings, grew 21.4% to 269,238 nsf and increased its exhibitor roster 9.8% to 1,171.
  • Summer NAMM took up residence in Nashville’s new Music City Center and made good use of the additional exhibit space. The 52,556 nsf exhibit floor was 20.5% larger than last year and, according to NAMM, the largest in five years. The exhibitor count was up 13.1% to 422, including 157 first-time exhibitors. The crowd was also 4.2% larger at 11,498 attendees reflecting a strong presence of retail buyers getting their inventories on order for the looming holiday shopping season.

Beauty is Global

Cosmoprof North America turned in another solid performance like the ones that placed the Las Vegas beauty industry show on both the Gold 100 and Fastest 50. BolognaFiere Group and the Professional Beauty Association sold out the show floor at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, growing 5.8% to 209,745 nsf. Exhibitors were up 5.0% to 895 and the crowd grew 1.7% to 26,000+.

International attendance and overseas exhibitors received a boost from Cosmoprof’s association with the U.S. International Buyer Program. The number of overseas exhibitors was up 7% to 314 and there were eight country pavilions from Brazil, China, Pakistan and more. A total of 116 foreign buyers from 11 countries were among the crowd.

Duccio Campagnoli, president of BolognaFiere Group, called Cosmoprof part of the company’s “unified platform that meets the needs of the global beauty industry.”

Top Venues

Cosmoprof contributed to a ‘beautiful’ month for Las Vegas, which hosted three Dashboard events totaling 539,969 nsf. Salt Lake City was a close second with 516,000 nsf, all of which was credited to Outdoor Retailer. The No. 3 slot was Chicago with 360,388 nsf. The Windy City hosted the IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo and The ASI Show, which stretched 91,150 nsf.

Next Month

Las Vegas promises to be even busier in August with a couple of sizable shows for the apparel industry. The month is led by the August edition of Advanstar’s mighty MAGIC Marketplace, which has been steadily climbing back to the 1,000,000 nsf mark. Clothing buyers will also be in aisles of OFFPRICE Wholesale Apparel Show, which Tarsus Group stages at the same time as MAGIC.

New York City hosts the pre-Christmas edition of the semi-annual NY Now, the new brand GLM recently gave to the venerable New York International Gift Fair. Chicago hosts Fire-Rescue International while both Nursery & Landscape Expo and the Great American Trucking Show pull into Dallas.