Fourth quarter CEIR Index results show slower growth for industry overall after 10 straight quarters of growth

Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has released year-end results for the CEIR Index. After an encouraging, first-half with growth near 2.4 per cent and tracking to meet the 2.9 per cent projection, performance in the second half of 2012 declined. The cooling that was reflected in the third quarter continued into the fourth quarter with the CEIR Index for the overall exhibition industry finishing at 1.5 per cent growth for the year, lagging behind the revised government GDP estimate of 2.2 per cent.

CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc. said, “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. 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.”

Based on the initial projection for the year, the sectors that were expected to do well performed better than projected. Conversely, sectors with low expectations performed worse than projected. Two sectors that exceeded projections were Discretionary Consumer Services (CS) and Sporting Goods, Travel and Entertainment (ST). Both rely on consumer confidence as does the Consumer Goods and Retail Trade sector. For example, the movie industry reported record growth despite consumer confidence today being 10 points lower than it was this time last year. Encouraging performance was also turned in by the Finance, Legal and Real Estate (FN), and Communications and Information Technology (IT) sectors.

Compared to the third quarter, attendance, the leading indicator, slowed from 1.3 per cent to one per cent. Similarly slowing growth was reflected in net square feet which was down slightly from 1.2 per cent in the third quarter to 0.8 per cent in the fourth quarter. Exhibitors slowed from 0.5 per cent to 0.2 per cent and revenues which were adjusted for inflation slowed from 1.6 per cent to 1.3 per cent.

As an objective measure of the annual performance of the exhibition industry, the CEIR Index measures year-over-year changes in four key metrics to determine overall performance: Net Square Feet of Exhibit Space Sold; Professional Attendance; Number of Exhibiting Companies; and Gross Revenue. The CEIR Index provides exhibition industry performance across 14 key industry sectors: Business Services; Consumer Goods; Discretionary Consumer Services; Education; Food; Financial, Legal and Real Estate; Government; Building, Construction, Home and Repair; Industrial/Heavy Machinery and Finished Business Inputs; Communications and Information Technology; Medical and Healthcare; Raw Materials and Science; Sporting Goods, Travel and Entertainment; and Transportation.

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