OXON HILL, Md. –– The good news from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) 2Q Index is that, unquestionably, the U.S. B2B exhibition industry has improved significantly in the past quarter. Cancellations are down to just 2% of all shows, from 100% in Q2 of 2020.
However, the complete picture is one of an industry still in recovery. The CEIR Total Index–– the gold standard for overall exhibition performance –– is still 25.5% lower than 2019 levels. Nonetheless, this is a vast improvement compared to the past two years: declines of 100.0% from 2019 in Q2 2020, 75.1% from 2019 in Q2 2021, and most recently, 37.9% from 2019 in Q1 2022.
Thanks to new trade shows and existing shows that have expanded or been held at a different time of year, 10.5% of all completed events surpassed their pre-pandemic levels. However, excluding canceled events, the CEIR Total Index for completed events in Q2 2022 still dropped by 24% from 2019. Major indicators including revenues, net square feet, and attendance and exhibitor levels, continue to remain lower than in 2019. Real revenues were still down the most, by 26.3%.
CEIR’s just-released report factored both the overall U.S. GDP and the uncertainty of impending recession into its Q2 report. The performance of the U.S. economy was far better than that of the exhibition industry, registering a 3.8% increase in real GDP from Q2 2019 to Q2 2022, adjusted for inflation. The overall economic recovery has long been driven by consumer spending on goods; in Q2 of 2022, spending on consumer services also fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
The big unknown is recession, and CEIR had Dr. Allen Shaw, Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc, weigh in on how this might impact the Q2 numbers moving forward. Shaw concluded that the growth in gross domestic income, U.S. production, employment and other areas actually foreshadows an improving economy—and exhibition industry—during the second half of the year.
“Easing inflation and moderate economic growth ahead should lay a firm foundation of support to the B2B exhibition industry,” Shaw said. “The B2B exhibition cancellation rate should remain extremely low, and the performance of completed events will continue to improve.”
Reach Allen Shaw at email@example.com