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Projected Loss for U.S Trade Show Cancellations Through March 15 at $1.8 Billion


DALLAS – Based on data from 50 B2B U.S. events that canceled as of March 15, the loss to the U.S. economy totals $1.8 billion in direct spending from exhibitors and attendees, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).

The 50 canceled events totaled a loss of 5.2 million nsf and $318 million in show organizer revenue. Based on calculations derived from cancelations (not postponements) reported by exhibition and event organizers, CEIR released preliminary projections of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the U.S. B2B exhibition industry in the coming months.

“We have been closely monitoring the progress of COVID-19 in anticipation of how it will impact our industry for weeks,” said CEIR CEO Cathy Breden. “Data collection and analysis takes time and we are pleased to have enough information now to answer some of the questions we have been receiving.”

Based on the cancelations reported as of March 15, CEIR calculates this will result in a loss of 41 to 65 million nsf and $2.3 to $3.6 billion in show organizer revenue. Combined with direct spending by exhibitors and attendees, CEIR estimates the total loss to the U.S. economy to be $14 billion to $22 billion, which includes businesses that support trade shows, Breden told TSE.

Each year between March 1 and May 15, CEIR reports there are approximately 2,500 B2B events held with at least 10 exhibitors and 3,000 nsf sold. CEIR believes that about 50% to 80% of those events have already canceled due to COVID-19 concerns and new mass gathering restrictions.

“At this point, the decline in the exhibition industry is a one-off retraction of the industry’s size,” said CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc. “Since this is a transitory event, we expect a full recovery for the exhibition industry in 2021.”

CEIR reports there are approximately 9,400 B2B exhibitions held in the U.S. annually. The exhibitions industry’s total impact on the U.S. GDP was $101 billion in 2019, up from $97 billion in 2018.

Related. Read the full release from CEIR:

“This information is incredibly helpful for communicating to federal legislators the economic impact of the B2B exhibitions industry,” said Carrie Ferenac, 2020 Chairperson of the CEIR Board of Directors and President of CNTV. “The information is being shared with industry associations who are advocating on the importance of trade shows to the U.S. economy, and the tremendous negative impact COVID-19 has had on organizer companies, venues and service providers, and to the people they employ.”

Reach Cathy Breden at (972) 687-9201 or; Carrie Ferenac at (407) 960-3967 or

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