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September 07, 2016

A sluggish macroeconomy and declining corporate profits have caused a deceleration of growth within the exhibition industry, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, which last week published the second-quarter results of its periodic CEIR Index research report.

According to CEIR's data, the exhibition industry grew a modest 1.6 percent in the second quarter of 2016, which is down from 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 and 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2016. The moderation in growth is a result of a small decline in trade show attendance, CEIR said, noting an attendance drop of 0.2 percent.

The CEIR Index measures year-over-year performance in four industry metrics. Although attendance fell, each of the other three metrics -- net square feet of exhibit space sold, exhibitors and revenues -- showed positive growth, increasing 2 percent, 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

"The slower growth in the second quarter is a temporary setback," said CEIR economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates. "As oil prices stabilize and consumer spending continues to remain the main driving force, by 2017 macroeconomic growth, and subsequently the business exhibition industry, will pick up the pace."

CEIR also reported performance for exhibitions across 14 industry sectors, 10 of which showed growth and four of which showed contraction. The strongest performing sectors so far in 2016 are food events (7.1 percent); building, construction, home and repair (5.4 percent); transportation (5.1 percent); and government (5.1 percent). Declining sectors, meanwhile, are raw materials and science (down 9.2 percent); education and nonprofit (down 1.8 percent); industrial/heavy machinery and finished business inputs (down 0.7 percent); and discretionary consumer services and goods (down 0.7 percent).

"We are seeing the direct impact the overall economy has on our industry, and yet we are still quite positive about the near future outlook," said Brian Casey, president and CEO of CEIR. "Clearly this data can be highly useful to many organizations as they look at strategic plans, as well as reporting to their leadership."