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Retail Shows Take a Beating
in August, except for MAGIC

Darlene Gudea
, President

Carol Andrews
, Editor-at-Large

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
October 1, 2013

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Oceanside, CA – With the exception of MAGIC Market Week’s stellar performance, trade shows serving the retail sector in August hit the skids and brought down the averages in Trade Show Executive’s Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics. Most merchandise, gift and apparel shows dropped in size. Yet no matter the sector, 13 out of 18 shows were in the red in at least one of the three metrics of trade show performance: net square feet (nsf) of exhibit space, number of exhibiting companies and attendance, leading to a dismal performance for the month. Collectively, the 18 shows surveyed for TSE’s Dashboard experienced the greatest growth in exhibitor totals, up a decent 2.7% from last August. Exhibit space was flat at 0.7%. Attendance drifted lower by (0.2)%, ushering in a substandard performance for the month.

August belonged to the for-profit side of the trade show industry. The top three managements among the 18 shows included on the Dashboard were all independent show organizers — Advanstar Communications, Inc., Emerald Expositions and GLM.

Advanstar led the charge with the August edition of MAGIC Market Week, the semii-annual retail apparel extravaganza that topped the 1 million net square feet mark. Emerald and GLM followed in the gift sector with ASD Las Vegas at 664,229 nsf and NY Now at 530,000 nsf.

For the Dashboard statistical analysis, TSE used adjusted figures, which excluded outliers. Only one show was considered an outlier in the attendance metric: the American Academy of Dermatology Summer Academy Meeting, which grew more than 25% in attendance. The other Dashboard shows contributed to an adjusted total of 3,259,300 nsf for the month of August; 14,712 exhibitors; and 281,735 attendees who no doubt enjoyed the air-conditioned aisles during the dog days of Summer.

The TSE Dashboard found the per-show average was 181,072 nsf, 817 exhibitors and 16,573 attendees. Seven of the 18 shows surveyed featured 100,000 nsf or more of exhibit space. Four of the shows were ranked on the TSE Gold 100 roster of largest. There were also four events on the TSE Fastest 50, which ranks the fastest-growing shows.

Four of the 18 shows reported gains in all three metrics. Three shows reported across-the-board declines, including the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) in Dallas. The 2012 GATS had been cruising along in both the Gold 100 and Fastest 50 rankings, but reported a (10.7)% decline in exhibit space to 167,700 nsf this year. Attendance slid (4.3)% but remained strong at 46,536 delegates and qualified buyer attendance was up, according to Randall-Reilly, show management.

Mixed Gift Bag

August included two major gift shows serving the pre-holiday consumer market, which many people are counting on to prod the entire U.S. economy forward. But both ASD Las Vegas and NY Now reported mixed results.

ASD Las Vegas welcomed 2,735 exhibitors, a solid 15.7% increase over 2012. But Emerald Expositions also experienced a disappointing (2.8)% decline in exhibit space, but still spanned a respectable 664,229 nsf.

Emerald made a big move prior to the show by bringing in Sourcing at ASD, a co-located event that featured the gamut of consumer products from overseas, including such heavyweight importers such as China, India and Mexico.

Sourcing at ASD was launched to provide U.S. distributors and wholesalers an opportunity to connect with the overseas producers of the majority of products that wind up on U.S. store shelves. “By aligning supply chain leaders in front of the key decision makers at an event they already attend, business opportunities are made possible that weren’t before,” said Chris McCabe, Emerald senior vice president. “This offers buyers a cost savings by cutting their travels around the globe to find new products or source new suppliers.”

The metrics for NY Now were up, down and flat. Attendance at the show once known as the New York International Gift Fair grew by 3.6% over last year to 51,000 and the number of exhibitors was unchanged at 2,800. Exhibit space, however, slipped (2.8)% to 530,000 nsf.

GLM reorganized the exhibit floor into distinct product areas, which may have contributed to the slight decline in net square footage, but show managers considered the re-design a roaring success because it made more sense to the exhibitors and attendees who have navigate the broadly horizontal show. “The energy was palpable among both buyers and suppliers,” said Christian Falkenberg, show director and GLM senior vice president.

Growth Leaders

  • It seems the massive MAGIC can do no wrong. The August edition was not only the largest show on the Dashboard but also chalked up another year of double-digit growth in exhibit space. Advanstar’s management team increased the exhibit space sales to 1,062,151 nsf, a hefty 11.5% increase to a show that last year was the fourth largest trade show in the nation and the largest semi-annual show. The number of exhibitors at MAGIC was up 4.3% and attendance was estimated at 70,000, 5.9% over 2012’s banner year. A good share of the growth came from the shoe department. “As international brands continue to see robust retail sales here in the U.S., they are attending FN PLATFORM in record numbers to gain market exposure and take advantage of our large retailer audience,” said Leslie Gallin, Vice President of Footwear at Advanstar.
  • The National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (NIGP) Annual Forum & Exposition might seem like long shot in the era of government spending rollbacks, but that was not the case for this show. Although a relatively small 24,100 nsf, the exhibit floor was still 3.9% larger than it was last year. Exhibitor count was up 4.5% and attendance climbed 4.7%. The education agenda emphasized best practices at a time when government agencies of all sizes have little margin for error when it comes to spending money.
     

Although medical shows in general remained sluggish, three shows reflected plenty of spark in certain metrics. 

  • The AAD, American Academy of Dermatology Summer Academy Meeting, hit a home run with attendance at its Boston event skyrocketing 29.3%.
  • The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) saw its exhibit space increase 7.1% to 16,200 nsf although attendance was basically flat and the number of exhibitors actually declined (3.6)% to 162. The AANA said interest in the exhibit hall was high and 60% of its attendees had the authority to make purchasing decisions.
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) National Conference of Family Medicine Residents & Medical Students is a niche event targeting aspiring doctors who will eventually take the plunge into private practice. It appealed to younger members of the AAFP and to the exhibitors who will be counting on them as customers in the coming year. Exhibit space in Kansas City grew to 49,700 nsf, a 2.9% increase over last year when the conference was held in the same location. The number of exhibitors increased 8.3% and the crowd of 3,531 was up 4.8%.

Top Cities

Las Vegas hosted MAGIC and ASD Las Vegas plus three other Dashboard events for a total of 1,952,580 nsf. That was far above second-ranked New York, which claimed NY Now and its 544,320 nsf. Dallas was third with the GATS and Metrocon Expo & Conference for a total of 287,700 nsf.

Next Month

Next month’s TSE Dashboard will analyze a variety of key shows across a wide array of sectors. They include a number of major Gold 100 shows such as PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Interbike, just days apart at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Chicago hosted the American Society for Radiation Oncology and San Diego had the Emergency Nurses Association Annual Conference. McCormick Place was the venue for Print & CPP Expo and ASIS International. AmericasMart Atlanta hosted the Atlanta Fall Gift & Home Furnishings Market and The Atlanta Gourmet Market. Together, they will reflect how and where the trade show industry is heading as they close out the Third Quarter.