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2018 CEIR Index Report now available


The growth of the business-to-business (B2B) exhibition industry accelerated along with the macro economy in 2017.

DALLAS – The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the 2018 CEIR Index Report. The CEIR Index analyzes the 2017 exhibition industry and provides an economic and exhibition industry outlook for the next three years. 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 (NSF) of exhibit space sold, professional attendance, number of exhibiting companies and gross revenue.

The CEIR Index provides data on exhibition industry performance across 14 key industry sectors:

Business Services (BZ)
Consumer Goods and Services (CG)
Discretionary Consumer Goods and Services (CS)
Education (ED)
Food (FD)
Financial, Legal and Real Estate (FN)
Government (GV)
Building, Construction, Home and Repair (HM)
Industrial/Heavy Machinery and Finished Business Inputs (ID)
Communications and Information Technology (IT)
Medical and Health Care (MD)
Raw Materials and Science (RM)
Sporting Goods, Travel and Entertainment (ST)
Transportation (TX)
U.S. economic growth proved resilient again in 2017. GDP accelerated to 2.3%, a significant improvement over the 1.5% expansion registered for 2016 and an eighth consecutive year of moderate growth. CEIR expects that GDP growth in the next few years will be propelled by a high rate of growth in personal consumption expenditures and improving private investment spending, in part due to recent tax cuts. Strengthening, but moderate government expenditures, will provide an additional boost. According to CEIR’s current projection, growth will rise to around 2.9% in 2018 before decelerating slightly to 2.7% in 2019 and 2.5% in 2020 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Annual Real GDP Growth

The growth of the business-to-business (B2B) exhibition industry accelerated along with the macro economy in 2017. The CEIR Total Index, a measure of overall exhibition industry performance, increased by a moderate 2.0%, 1.0 percentage point higher than in 2016. All four metrics rose in 2017, with real revenues leading at 2.9% above 2016. Attendees and NSF rose 2.1% and 2.0%, respectively, whereas exhibitors gained 1.1%.

“Optimism in the business environment and robust economic and job growth should continue to drive exhibitions,” noted CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc. “The exhibition industry is expected to finally enter into an expansion phase in 2018 with the Total Index surpassing its previous peak.

Figure 2: Growth in the CEIR Total Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry vs. GDP Growth

Show organizers can now use the latest data in tandem with the CEIR Index Event Performance Analyzer (IEPA) to measure their event’s performance. Created with support from the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO), CEIR’s IEPA is designed to provide organizers a benchmark for how their exhibition is performing against the CEIR Index metrics. The IEPA also compares the exhibition versus the overall performance of the industry sector and the exhibition industry overall.

A forecast update of the CEIR Index will be presented at Predict: CEIR’s Annual Exhibition Industry Conference on 13-14 September 2018 at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.

“The combination of the CEIR Index Report, CEIR Census and Event Performance Analyzer Tool is a powerhouse of resources to use in strategizing for the near future,” said CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE. “All this data is real-time information that, when factored into what the expert economists and futurists are telling us, allows for industry executives to feel confident in how they plan ahead. Exhibition organizer executives should plan to attend the CEIR Predict Conference, 13-14 September at the MGM National Harbor, to gain even more insight into what the next three to five years hold for the trade show industry.”

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