CEIR: After 25 Quarters of Growth, Exhibition Industry Contracts

After 25 consecutive quarters of growth -- more than six years -- the exhibition industry contracted for the first time at the end of 2016, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), which today published the fourth-quarter results of its periodic CEIR Index research report.

According to CEIR's data, the exhibition industry declined by 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, which is down from 1.5 percent growth in the third quarter of 2016 and 2 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The CEIR Index measures year-over-year performance in four industry metrics; the decline occurred in only three of them: number of exhibitors, attendance, and real revenues, which fell 0.8 percent, 0.6 percent, and 1.6 percent, respectively. The fourth metric, net square feet of exhibit space sold, grew by 1.3 percent.

CEIR also reports performance for exhibitions across 14 industry sectors. Only three of those sectors -- industrial/heavy machinery and finished business inputs, raw materials and science, and consumer goods and retail trade -- contracted.

The industry's slight contraction should be construed as a hiccup rather than a change in fortunes, according to CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates Inc. "The decline was a temporal setback," he said, "as economic fundamentals still point to moderate growth for the exhibition industry."

Added CEIR Foundation CEO Cathy Breden, "We are hopeful this is a temporary downturn and the industry will rebound in Q1 2017."