DALLAS — On July 15, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) held a webinar discussing the long-term impact COVID-19 is expected to have on B2B events, as well as the economy at large.
The webinar, entitled “COVID-19: Impact on U.S. Economy and B2B Exhibition Industry”, was hosted by CEIR’s CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM and Allen Shaw, PhD., President and Chief Economist at Global Economic Consulting Associates.
Although the condition of the events industry has been tumultuous in recent months because of shutdowns around the country, Breden told webinar attendees that she is optimistic about the future.
“It is encouraging to see our colleagues in China and Europe beginning to hold shows again, and so it gives us some hope that in the U.S., some of our shows will begin again in the fall.”
In order to provide a sense of what the reopening of events will look like, and the factors that will influence this recovery, Shaw presented information broken down into four categories:
- COVID-19. Shaw stressed that the trajectory of COVID-19 infections will be the largest indicator of when events will be able to resume and when the entire economy will rebound. “We have a health crisis, not a credit crisis,” he said. “As such, the pace of economic recovery and the timing of trade show resumptions depend on the number of new COVID-19 cases.” Shaw explained that while Europe has seen a downward trend of new cases—even in places hit the hardest by the virus, like Spain and Italy—the United States has not yet followed this trend. “In the U.S., we see a disturbing resurgence of COVID-19 cases, starting from late June,” he said. As a result, states are pausing or walking back their reopening schedules, which means any momentum in economic recovery that was created has largely been lost.
- Fiscal/Monetary policies. Shaw discussed the interventions that have been made to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn, such as the reduction of interest rates, the availability of small and mid-sized business loans, and the COVID-19-related unemployment insurance payments. Although these measures have gone a long way toward providing an economic buffer, Shaw said more will need to be done in order to ensure that steps toward a full economic recovery are not derailed.
- Economic recovery. Shaw said that he expects to see a V-shaped recovery of the economy, on both a national and global scale, which means that it will experience a sharp decline followed by a quick recovery. This is because this economic crisis is unlike recessions of the past. “The COVID-19 economic downturn is unique,” said Shaw. “It is mainly caused by supply shock as compared to demand shock during the Great Depression and the Great Recession” As a result, Shaw predicts that when the economy reopens, sales will begin to surge—a trend that began to happen in retail back in May as stores started reopening.
- B2B exhibitions. Although B2B exhibitions saw a 72.6% decline in March as lockdowns occurred around the country, Shaw predicts that as new COVID-19 cases decrease and the economy reopens, the events industry will get back on track. “We expect a substantial decline this year, followed by a rebound in 2021 and a full recovery in 2022,” he said.
Reach Cathy Breden at firstname.lastname@example.org; Allen Shaw at email@example.com.