DALLAS — Recent growth in the U.S. exhibition industry might be choppy, but things are unquestionably headed in the right direction, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s just-released Q4 Index report. CEIR reported that the industry improved significantly in the fourth quarter of 2021 from the previous 7 quarters.
About 98% of exhibitions were canceled during the second half of 2020. That dropped to 91.3% in the first quarter of 2021 and 12.5% in Q4.
This dramatic drop in canceled events boosted the overall Q4 Index result. The CEIR Total Index — a measure of overall exhibition performance — =indicated the industry is still down 45.3% compared to 2019. Among other categories that are still down from 2019, attendees suffered the largest fall at 43.2%, net square feet was down 41.9% and real revenues were close behind at 40.6%. Exhibitors contracted the least, down 36.2% from the fourth quarter of 2019.
The good news is the U.S. economy has been growing since May 2020. With a sharp rebound in the third quarter of 2020 and a continued recovery through the fourth quarter of 2021, real GDP in Q4 2021 exceeded its peak in the fourth quarter of 2019 by 3.2%. Add to that the fact the fourth-quarter 2021 numbers were negatively affected by the Omicron spike, which is subsiding, and the outlook for 2022 is positive.
“With more vaccine mandates and safety measures implemented at large gatherings, and with a majority of the population vaccinated, the recovery of B2B exhibitions should continue in 2022, unless a new variant causes a severe fifth wave of COVID-19 infections,” CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM, said. CEIR plans to release its 2022 CEIR Index Report in early May. Click here for more information.
Reach Cathy Breden at (972) 687-9201