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CEIR Index: Trade Shows Post Respectable Growth of 3.2% in 2007


St. Petersburg, FL – The average trade show grew 3.2% in 2007, according to the CEIR Index, released on April 7 by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research at the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) CEO Summit. Growth statistics were off from a high of 5.8% in 2005 but up significantly from 2002 when trade shows contracted 2.9%.

It was the Fourth Quarter that brought the numbers down a bit. The exhibition industry struggled in the last three months of 2007, with overall growth down 1.9% from Q4 2006, trimming what could have been an even better year for the exposition industry. But trade show growth outperformed the economy,  which grew only 2.2% during the same period, as measured by GDP (Gross Domestic Product). And 2007 marked the fifth consecutive year of industry expansion, underscoring the health and vitality of the trade show industry.

Doug Ducate, CEIR president and CEO, noted that the Building and Construction industry tends to hold its trade shows during the winter months. Since construction is a sector that is hit early and hard when the U.S. economy falters, it comes as no surprise that the Fourth Quarter of 2007 and first half of 2008 would be softer for exhibitions in that sector.

The status of the U.S. economy in 2008 and whether or not it had entered a recession continued to be unclear as the SISO conference got under way. However, Ducate noted that the industry had already downshifted in 2007. “After three quarters of strong growth, the metrics for the exhibition industry softened in the Fourth Quarter of 2007 and for the first time in several years underperformed the same quarter of the previous year.”

The fifth annual edition of the authoritative survey on the state of the trade show industry concluded that the developing economic slowdown in the U.S. would likely continue to soften the industry for at least the first half of 2008. “Most forecasters predict that the second half of 2008 will show marked economic improvement and growth,” the report predicted.

The news for trade show organizers was by and large positive. The growth rate slowed but remained positive in terms of revenues, attendance and net square footage. All industry sectors reported increases in overall exhibition growth in 2007, except for the Building and Construction sector.

  • Full year 2007: Overall industry growth was up 3.2% over 2006. Net square footage grew 0.3%; exhibitors were up 0.9%; attendees grew 4.9%; and revenues climbed 6.8%.
  • Fourth Quarter 2007: Overall industry growth was down 1.9% from Q4 2006. Net square footage fell 3%. Exhibitors fell 3.6%. Attendance grew 1% and revenue fell 1.6%
  • 2000 to 2007 CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate): Overall industry growth for the period was 2.5%. Net square footage was up 3.1%; exhibitors increased 1.5%; attendance grew 2%; and revenue climbed 3.1%.


More than 300 events contributed data for the report.  The CEIR Index is an objective measure of the annual performance of the exhibition industry. It measures year-over-year changes in four key metrics to determine overall performance: Net Square Feet; Attendees; Exhibitors; and Revenue.

Reach Doug Ducate, president and CEO of CEIR, at (972) 687-9242 or

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