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Nearly 6% Surge in Exhibitors Leads Gains

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
October 1, 2015

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Oceanside, CA – Exhibit space grew a solid 4.3% during August thanks in part to a sharp 5.9% jump in the number of exhibiting companies, followed by a 1.3% increase in attendance.

There were 13 shows held in August that were surveyed for the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics. Of that 13, four shows actually saw their exhibitor numbers decline compared to last year, and two other shows reported no change in exhibitor totals from the previous year. The bottom line was a mere seven shows contributed to the strong overall increase in exhibitors.

After calibrating the totals to exclude outliers and shows on a non-annual schedule, the Dashboard shows had an adjusted total of 3,540,061 nsf of exhibit space, plus 15,651 exhibitors and 222,284 attendees. August shows had an average of 295,005 nsf of exhibit space; 1,304 exhibitors; and 18,524 attendees.

Seven of the 13 Dashboard shows featured 100,000 nsf of exhibit space or more, and four were large enough to make the most recent TSE Gold 100 rankings of largest U.S. trade shows. Two events were featured on the TSE Fastest 50 list of shows with the highest growth rates of 2014.

One show saw its metrics decline in all three categories and only three of the 13 were up across the board.

Confidence in Consumers

It is possible to trace the strong increase in the number of overall exhibitors back to the improvement in the U.S. economy and expectations of higher consumer spending. Shows in the Consumer Goods & Retail Trade sector were the most prominent events in August, and are generally considered to be fertile ground for startups and small companies making their first forays into exhibitions.

MAGIC once again reported strong gains on the exhibitor side with exhibit space spiking 11.5% to 1,140,800 nsf and exhibitors increasing 12.6%. The semi-annual apparel show in Las Vegas hosted 6,354 exhibitors in August, an increase of 709 companies from last Summer.

METROCON Expo & Conference in Dallas increased its exhibitors by 6.9% and had a waitlist of 30 companies when the show opened.

The honor for the most sizzling increase in exhibitors in the August Dashboard went to SOURCEDIRECT at ASD, a co-location with ASD Market Week, which more than doubled the number of companies from 247 last year to 513. Exhibit space was up 92.4% at 58,300 nsf, which accommodated a crowd of nearly 11,000.

“When we launched SOURCEDIRECT in 2013, we anticipated it would take some time to gain traction, but to see this type of expansion in just two years exceeded our expectations,” said Karalynn Sprouse, vice president, Merchandise Group and International Sourcing for Emerald Expositions.

Other Growth Leaders

  • NY NOW set a record for exhibitors as an estimated 2,657 companies set up shop at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, a 2.2% increase over last Summer’s total. The 396 new exhibitors also set a show record, and another 219 companies selling all manner of home and gift products returned to the show after skipping a year or more, said Randi Mohr, NY NOW co-director and vice president. Mohr and fellow Co-Director Scott Kramer took steps to build up the buzz for NY NOW by creating initiatives aimed at influential social media and bloggers. Newly launched was  the #NYNOW Social Media Lounge area, sponsored by HGTV. The Bloggers Choice Awards was expanded to encompass the entire market, with representatives from alternate and emerging media channels identifying top home and lifestyle products as “the next big thing.”
  • FFANY New York Shoe Expo in Midtown Manhattan held steady in exhibitors and attendance, but exhibit space sales stepped up by 16.7% to 70,000 nsf. Organizers at the Fashion Footwear Association said the increase was due to existing exhibitors booking larger amounts of space.

Top Cities

MAGIC and ASD MARKETWeek earned Las Vegas the top honor among host cities during August. The two Gold 100 events, along with two other Dashboard shows — SOURCEDIRECT at ASD and the OFFPRICE Show — combined for 1,915,231 nsf in Las Vegas.

The American Academy of Dermatology Summer Academy Meeting joined NY NOW and FFANY in New York this Summer, giving the Big Apple second place with 672,845 nsf. Salt Lake City took the third spot, thanks to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, which grew 1.4% to 551,885 nsf.

Next Month

The show calendar will remain busy right up until the start of the holidays this year with at least six Gold 100 shows and plenty of Fastest 50 events taking place in November.

The IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando is expecting more than 28,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors. A special area for first-time exhibitors is sold out, and the overall exhibit floor will cover about 525,000 nsf.

The National Business Aviation Association will launch a forum dedicated to safety issues at its annual trade show, which this year lands in Las Vegas. Last year’s show in Orlando grew 11.9% to 1,094,700 nsf, which placed it on the Fastest 50 and at No.6 on the Gold 100.

Other dual Gold 100/Fastest 50 shows in November include PLMA’s Private Label Trade Show in Chicago and SGIA Expo in Atlanta. The exhibit floor at SGIA Expo, which ranked 81st on the Gold 100 with 236,750 nsf, was sold out before the end of Summer.

Boutique Design New York has been a fixture on the Fastest 50 for the past four years, thanks to double-digit growth in all three metrics. This year’s show will be larger yet again with an exhibit floor projected at 80,000 nsf and more than 600 exhibitors.

Finally, FABTECH reached 553,800 nsf last year and was expecting about 1,000 exhibitors and more than 40,000 attendees in Chicago this year. McCormick Place will also host more than 50,000 attendees at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) 101st Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting, the largest medical exhibition in the nation.