by Alex Palmer | March 13, 2019
The growth of the exhibition industry continues at a steady clip, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. The organization has reported that the industry enjoyed a 2.5 percent growth (as measured by the CEIR Total Index) year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The number represents an uptick compared with the anemic 0.9 percent growth recorded in the third quarter; the fourth quarter also showed strongest quarterly year-over-year growth of 2018. As a whole, 2018 saw the Total Index increase by 1.9 percent, to 109.0. While this rate of growth is slightly lower than the 2.0 percent gain in 2017, the Total Index reached in 2018 has now surpassed the previous peak of 107.6, set in 2007.
 
"Nearly a decade after the Great Recession, the exhibition industry in 2018 has finally entered an aggregate size above the previous peak," said Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEO of the research organization. "Barring an unexpected recession, the overall growth for the industry in 2019 will continue, albeit at a modest pace, as the economy remains healthy, even though a little softer than 2018."
 
CEIR has tallied steady growth in the exhibitions industry for the last several years, and since 2011 has only noted one quarter (Q4 of 2016) with negative year-over-year increase. Additionally, all the individual quarterly metrics assessed by CEIR proved positive for Q4 2018, with real revenues increasing by 4.4 percent, attendees up by 3.2 percent, net square feet up by 1.6 percent and exhibitors increasing by 1 percent.
 
Allen Shaw, CEIR economist and chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, noted that the Q4 performance "shows the resilience of the exhibition industry despite uncertainties surrounding the trade negotiation with China, volatile stock markets and slowing world economic growth."