Things continued to get better for the B2B exhibition industry as 2021 wore on. Third-quarter findings from the Center of Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) show that their Total Index saw a relatively smaller decline of 56% over the same quarter in 2019.
This 56% decline in the CEIR Total Index — a measurement of exhibition industry performance that takes into account net square feet of exhibit space sold, professional attendance, number of exhibiting companies and total event gross revenue — is an improvement over Q3 2020, which saw a year-over-year (y-o-y) decline of 98.1%.
[Note: Per the report, nearly 98% of trade shows scheduled to be held in the third quarter of last year were canceled, making comparison of Q3 2021 performance results to Q3 2020 results not useful, as any positive change would be very large and misleading. The more useful comparison is to 2019, the industry benchmarks before COVID-19 forced the industry’s shutdown. Thus, completed events in the third quarter of 2021 are compared with those in the third quarter of 2019.]
Although the pandemic had not ended and the Delta variant continued to hamper economic activities before the advent of Omicron, the US economy continued to grow and about 4 in 5 (81%) of scheduled in-person events took place during Q3. This is compared to the 10% of scheduled physical events that occurred in Q1 and the 33% that took place in Q2.
The data also shows that exhibition metrics suffered declines in Q3 across the board. Excluding canceled events, the quarter saw the Total Index drop by 45.8% over Q3 2019. At -51.2%, exhibitors had the steepest decline, followed by real revenues (-49.7%) and net square feet (-43.8%). Attendees saw a smaller decline over Q3 2019, dropping 37.1%.
About the Data: The CEIR Total Index is a measure of exhibition industry performance that takes into account the net square feet of exhibit space sold, professional attendance, number of exhibiting companies, and total event gross revenue.