The exhibition industry slowed to a crawl in the fourth quarter and finished 2012 with lower than anticipated growth, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s CEIR Index.
The exhibition industry grew just 1.5 percent in 2012, lagging the overall U.S. economy, which grew 2.2 percent as measured by the Gross Domestic Product. The industry also underperformed its projected 2012 growth of 2.9 percent. For the year, attendance was up about 2 percent over 2011 numbers, while the number of exhibitors, revenues, and net square feet of exhibition space sold were up about 1 percent each.
"We had a positive outlook during the first and second quarters of 2012; however, the exhibition industry began to slump in the third quarter and continued through the end of the year,” said CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates Inc. “We attribute this to the well-publicized prospect of the ‘fiscal cliff’ which substantially hurt business sentiment and willingness to incur travel expenses, and ultimately hurt the exhibition industry."
Overall, the CEIR Index climbed about .8 percent in the fourth quarter, following a 1 percent jump in the third quarter. This followed 2.4 percent growth in the first half of the year.
Looking at the fourth-quarter metrics, attendance, revenues, and net square feet were each up about 1 percent, while number of exhibitors was flat.