Exhibit Space Wanes in August
Oceanside, CA – The lazy days of Summer were apparent in August as exhibit space slipped and the attendance and exhibitors metrics ended on a flat note, according to the Trade Show Executive Dashboard of Monthly Trade Shows.
The overall performance for August was a mixed bag. Exhibit space was down (1.4)% as was the exhibitor count, which drifted (0.2)% lower when compared to August 2013. Attendance was the lone gainer, but only by a negligible 0.4%.
There were 18 shows surveyed for the Dashboard. Together, they totaled an adjusted 4,171,869 net square feet (nsf) of exhibit space. The adjusted total of exhibitors settled at 11,863. Attendance was a total of 311,624. The statistics worked out to a per-show average of 245,404 nsf of exhibit space, 741 exhibitors, and 19,477 attendees. The adjusted totals exclude outliers with growth or declines of more than 25% as well as shows without a two-year comparison.
Nine August shows covered 100,000 nsf or more of exhibit space. Five shows were on the TSE Gold 100 rankings of the largest U.S. trade shows, and three were featured on the TSE Fastest 50 roster of shows on the growth fast track.
Despite the seemingly soft statistics in August, only four shows experienced declines in all three metrics. At the same time, six reported growth in all three.
MAGIC Seen More Clearly
At MAGIC-August, Advanstar Communications Inc. reported a rare decline in exhibit space, but a huge 25.5% jump in exhibitors. A double-digit increase in exhibitors shouldn’t coincide with a (3.6)% drop in exhibit space, particularly with 1,023,560 nsf of floor space and 5,645 exhibitors. Advanstar explained the differences were the result of more accurately tallying the number of individual companies that set up exhibits within the confines of international pavilions. Attendance growth was a reasonable 2.9% over last year, with 72,000 people crowding into the show’s multiple venues.
Another large Las Vegas show, ASD Las Vegas – August, also experienced a slowdown in exhibit space. Emerald Expositions said the floor declined (12.0)% to 620,720 nsf, but remained large enough for inclusion on the Gold 100 again. The number of exhibitors decreased (5.5)% and attendance was down (6.3)%. The post-show report pointed to softness in the retail sector as the reason for the declines. A large portion of ASD attendees came from brick-and-mortar retail stores, many of whom were able to make direct contact with overseas manufacturers at the show’s new SourceDirect feature at ASD.
On the East Coast, NY NOW saw its numbers slump. The big gift show was hit by an (11.8)% decline in attendance while exhibit space fell (2.6)% to 516,000 nsf. The sparser crowds in New York apparently did not erode the quality of the attendees. Emerald Expositions said the show floor was busy, and noted that many exhibitors called it the best of the industry’s Summer markets, with brisk business and strong order writing. An increase in international participation was noticeable.
- The American Psychological Association’s APA Annual Convention moved from Hawaii to Washington, DC this Summer. The dramatic reduction in travel distance for mainlanders resulted in equally dramatic increases in the metrics. Exhibit space shot up 53.7% to 25,200 nsf and the number of exhibitors grew 43.6% to 191.
- The American Academy of Dermatology Summer Academy Meeting in Chicago turned in some puzzling metrics, including a 25% increase in exhibit space to 17,900 nsf. At the same time, the exhibitor count remained virtually unchanged at 135. The only blemish was a (14.2)% drop in attendance to 2,878.
- The International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta was as solid as an oak tree this year. Metrics for the Gold 100 show were up across the board, led by 9.5% growth in exhibit space to 448,693 nsf. Exhibitors grew by 8.0% to 929, and attendance was up 4.9% to 23,107. Some of the growth seemed to stem from the show’s new pavilion for countertop manufacturers and a pre-show symposium on the same topic.
The Great Outdoors
Emerald scored big in August with the trusty Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. The August edition of the show for the outdoor enthusiast industry was the largest ever with 545,684 nsf, up 5.2% from last Summer. The number of exhibitors was up 11.7% at 1,473, but estimated attendance slackened (2.7)% to 27,090.
Even with the slightly smaller crowd, Salt Lake City was abuzz during the show. Temporary pavilions provided 95,000 nsf of overflow exhibit space for new and returning vendors.
“Innovation in outdoor gear and accessories continues to drive consumer interest, which brings more and more traffic to specialty outdoor retail stores that are the heart and soul of our industry,” said Kenji Haroutunian, show director and vice president of Emerald.
In fact, the exhibit space at Outdoor Retailer was large enough to put Salt Lake City in second place among the cities that hosted Dashboard shows in August.
And you could bet that Las Vegas was by far the leader with five shows totaling 1,884,215 nsf. And New York was No. 3, thanks to the 516,000 nsf covered by NY Now.
The final few weeks before the holiday slowdown will be crowded with some major exhibitions.
PACK EXPO International in Chicago was expected to be sold out at more than 1 million nsf. Show managers reported that more than 970,000 nsf had been booked for 2014 by the time last year’s show closed.
FABTECH, which made the most-recent Gold 100 and Fastest 50 lists, returns to Atlanta for the first time since 2010. The exhibit floor was projected at 500,000 nsf, up 25% from the last Atlanta show.
The SEMA Show and AAPEX Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo will bring the automotive products world to Las Vegas. More than 2,000 exhibitors and 60,000 attendees were expected at The SEMA Show.
Two of the largest medical conferences in the U.S. were also on the November calendar. The Greater New York Dental Meeting opens on a Sunday for the benefit of dentists in the metro area who can’t get away from the drill during the week. Wrapping up the month, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Annual Meeting & Scientific Assembly marks its 100th edition in Chicago November 30-December 5.
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