The good news is the exhibition industry grew for the ninth straight quarter in the third quarter of 2012, says the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. The not-so-good news is that growth has decelerated due to uncertainty over the economy and the looming “fiscal cliff.”

“Concern about the fiscal cliff and the global economy has continued to take a toll in the exhibition industry,” says Allen Shaw, CEIR’s consulting economist and chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates Inc. Attendees and exhibitors are being much more cautious in light of the uncertainty, he adds.

The CEIR Index climbed 1 percent in the third quarter, underperforming the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, which rose 2.7 percent. In the first two quarters of 2012, CEIR outperformed the U.S. GDP, gaining 3 percent in the first quarter and 2 percent in the second quarter.

All four key metrics the CEIR tracks showed slow growth in the third quarter. Attendance increased only 1 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year. Comparatively, attendance jumped 5 percent and 3 percent year-over-year in the first two quarters. Net square feet and number of exhibiting companies each grew 1 percent in the quarter, while revenues were flat.