Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released fourth quarter data collected for the annual CEIR Index report. The performance of the business-to-business exhibition industry, as measured by the CEIR Total Index, continued to improve during the fourth quarter of 2014. The fourth quarter of 2014 marked the eighteenth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth. However, the growth decelerated from a revised year-on-year gain of 2.3% in the third quarter to 1.7% (see Figure 1).
Nonetheless, the growth of the exhibition industry index lagged a bit behind GDP growth for the third straight quarter (which tends to be the norm), in contrast to the first quarter of 2014 where exhibitions grew a little faster than GDP (see Figure 2).
All four metrics posted year-on-year gains in the fourth quarter. The strongest performer was in attendance, which rose 2.6%; whereas the weakest metric was the number of exhibitors, increased by a paltry 0.2%. Attendance continued its upward trend since the end of the recession in 2009, and in 2014, at 68.7 million, attendance has finally exceeded its previous peak of 68.4 million in 2007. To a large extent the gains in attendees during the last few years was propelled by a strengthening job market. Attendance is closely watched as it is a leading indicator of future performance and bodes well for business in coming years (See Figures 3 and 4).
“With the fourth quarter’s results and 18 consecutive quarters of growth and our predictions closely matching outcomes, we are confident in the continued growth and progress of the industry,” says CEIR’s economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc. “Additionally, in line with our expectations as published in the 2014 CEIR Index Report, the Total Index increased by a moderate 1.8% for 2014 for the year as a whole, just slightly below the 2.0% forecasted growth.”
CEIR is in the final stages of analyzing the exhibition industry’s 2014 overall performance, to be released in the upcoming CEIR Index, an Analysis of the 2014 Exhibition Industry and Future Outlook in April. In addition to examining the industry’s overall performance, the CEIR Index takes an in-depth look at each of the 14 industry sectors in addition to providing an industry forecast for the next three years.
“Slowly but surely, the exhibition industry is gaining strength,” noted CEIR President & CEO Brian Casey, CEM. “The CEIR Index and Predict Outlook Conference are great resources that will provide us with more details as to what to expect and how to plan accordingly.”