CEIR BREAKING NEWS: 2019 CEIR Index Report Now Available

Today, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the 2019 CEIR Index Report. The CEIR Index analyzes the 2018 exhibition industry and provides an economic and exhibition industry outlook for the next three years. CEIR Index 2019

The U.S. economy accelerated in 2018, rising from 2.2% growth in 2017 to 2.9% in 2018, representing nine consecutive years of growth. Nonresidential investment led the economy, with personal consumption and federal defense expenditures providing support. The widening trade gap partially offset GDP growth. GDP expansion in the next few years will be driven by moderate growth in personal consumption expenditures and private investment spending; higher spending levels of both are helped by recent tax cuts. Moderate increases of government expenditures will provide an additional boost. Nonetheless, personal and business spending growth will soften as the impact of tax cuts diminishes, and a widening trade gap will limit potential overall expansion. According to CEIR’s current projection, real GDP growth will ebb to around 2.5% in 2019 before decelerating further to 2.0% in 2020 and 1.8% in 2021 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Annual Real GDP Growth


In 2018, the exhibition industry’s performance finally surpassed its last peak and is now anticipated to break new ground performance-wise through 2021. The Total Index, a measure of overall exhibition industry performance, increased by a moderate 1.9%, just slightly lower than the 2.0% gain in 2017. All four metrics rose in 2018, with real revenues leading at 3.6% above 2017 levels. Both attendees and net square feet (NSF) rose 1.7%, whereas exhibitors gained 0.5%.

Exhibition developments in 2018 varied widely by industry. The leading sector was Government (GV), surging 7.8%. Food (FD) and Discretionary Consumer Goods and Services (CS) also had strong showings, rising by 5.4% and 3.6%, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, the sector most challenged was Financial, Legal and Real Estate (FN), for which the index declined by 2.6%. Consumer Goods and Retail Trade (CG) was the second most challenged sector, dropping 1.8%.

“Moderate economic, job and personal disposable income growth should continue to drive exhibitions,” noted CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc. “However, the downward secular trend in FN, CG and Education (ED) will exert a drag on the overall performance of the exhibition industry. CEIR expects the Total Index growth to slow to 1.4%, 0.5 percentage points lower than the 2018 rate and 1.0 percentage point behind real GDP growth. Exhibition performance will further slow modestly to 1.1% in 2020 and 0.8% in 2021 as the economy settles into a slower but more sustainable growth path.” (see Figure 2)

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

Growth shown in CEIR Index

After substantial declines during the Great Recession, real revenue has been the strongest metric since 2011 (see Figure 3). A relatively strong recovery should continue through 2020, in part reflecting a higher revenue per NSF sale.

Figure 3: CEIR Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry, 2014=100

CEIR Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry

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); and Transportation (TX). Click here for information on how to purchase the complete 2019 CEIR Index Report.

After its initial release, a forecast update of the CEIR Index will be presented at the CEIR Predict conference on 16-17 September 2019 at the MGM National Harbor. The conference will provide exhibition professionals with macroeconomic insights, as well as insights into why things are happening as opposed what is happening. For more information about CEIR Predict, visit www.ceir.org/2019-predict.

“This will be our ninth annual Predict conference and we are eager to share new information and perspectives that industry executives have come to rely on from CEIR,” said CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE. “The data from the latest CEIR Index, combined with the knowledge of guest economist Dr. Lindsey Piezga, along with other forward-looking sessions will provide attendees with an excellent predictive edge to use in their future strategic planning and business development efforts.”

CEIR sincerely appreciates the support it receives from this year’s Predict partners:


International Association of Exhibitions and Events® (IAEE)
Streampoint Solutions
Visit Anaheim
Visit Baltimore
Visit San Antonio

Messe Frankfurt
Visit Dallas

Access Intelligence
Choose Chicago
Convention Plant Creations
CORT Event Furnishings
Experient, A Maritz Global Events Company
Map Your Show
Oscar & Associates
Trade Show Executive
Visit Phoenix

For more information about the CEIR Index or CEIR Predict, contact Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE or call +1 (972) 687-9201.

About CEIR
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) serves to advance the growth, awareness and value of exhibitions and other face-to-face marketing events by producing and delivering knowledge-based research tools that enable stakeholder organizations to enhance their ability to meet current and emerging customer needs, improve their business performance and strengthen their competitive position. For additional information, visit www.ceir.org.


Media Inquiries:
Mary Tucker
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+1 (972) 687-9226