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Continuing Improvement for B2B Exhibition Industry According to CEIR Q1 2023 Index Reports

Maddy Ryley, Managing Editor
CEIR Q1 2023 Index Reports Continuing Improvement for B2B Exhibition Industry

CHICAGO — The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released its Q1 2023 Index, which reports that the B2B exhibition industry saw improvement in Q1, with the CEIR Total Index up 42.7% from last year.

Although the B2B exhibition industry’s Total Index is still 12% down from 2019, Q1 2023 shows the industry is drastically improving compared to Q1 in 2021 and 2022. In line with research from Trade Show Executive’s Dashboard reports which found that trade shows are rebounding to above 2019 levels, CEIR reported that 33.3% of completed events surpassed pre-pandemic levels of the CEIR Total Index in Q1 2023. This is double that of those who surpassed pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2021.

The performance of events is also continuing to improve, with attendee numbers recovering the most this quarter by being down just 6.3% from Q1 2019, then net square footage (-10.3%) followed by exhibitors (-14.8%).

“Historically, there is an upward trend in NSF per exhibitor,” CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP-F, CAE, CEM, said. “Mergers and acquisitions reduce the potential number of exhibitors. However, the merged companies tend to book bigger booth size, as do those exhibitors who are doing well financially. Data on for some shows clearly show this trend. Interestingly, NSF per exhibitor was above the trend in 2020 and 2021 for COVID-19 consideration. NSF per exhibitor in Q1 2023 increased 5.3% from Q1 2019.”

Related. CEIR Census and Index Predict Where Industry Recovery Is Likely to be Active

The U.S.’ real GDP experienced a 6.8% increase compared to Q1 2019, and on a seasonally-adjusted annual rate, real GDP rose 2% in Q1 2023, following higher growth in the last two quarters of 2022.

When compared to the overall B2B exhibition industry, the Government and Discretionary Consumer Goods and Services sectors are expected to perform better, while Communications and Information Technology along with Building, Construction, Home and Repair sectors are expected to trail behind.

Although CEIR’s insights on a recession are optimistic compared to what was anticipated in March, because of inflation, revenue levels for the industry are 15.1% lower than Q1 2019. If there is a recession ahead, CEIR predicts it will be shallow because there’s pent-up demand for travel and tourism, household debt service payments as a percent of disposable income remains low and there’s urgency in adopting new technologies like AI and electric vehicles.

According to Dr. Allen Shaw, the Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc., a full B2B exhibition industry recovery is expected in 2024, and that recovery of attendance and exhibitors will be supported by greater numbers of international participants.

Reach Cathy Breden at

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