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MAGIC, World of Concrete Help Propel February Exhibit Space Higher

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
April 1, 2015

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Oceanside, CA – The recent trend of sharp upturns in exhibit space during the month of February continued this year with a 5.8% surge in net square footage of exhibit space occupied in convention centers across the U.S., according to the Trade Show Executive (TSE) Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics.

The surge was stoked by double-digit increases in the exhibit space at the World of Concrete and in the number of exhibitors at MAGIC.

It was another February in which overall exhibit space for the month increased sharply and also eventually outpaced the overall growth rate for the year.

A year ago, exhibit space in February 2014 jumped 6.5% over the previous year. For the entire 12 months of 2014, exhibit space grew a more-modest 2.6% pace.

Exhibit space this February was not the only impressive jump seen in the TSE Dashboard. Attendance spiked 5.1% while the number of exhibitors grew 3.0%. In 2014, the attendance and exhibitor totals were up 1.5% and 1.7% respectively.

The reasons behind the 2015 increases were not entirely clear, although the recovery of the U.S. economy had another year under its belt, and travel costs were down, thanks to lower fuel costs.

Fabulous February

We analyzed a total of 18 shows across the country in February, some of which took place during serious snow in the Northeast and Midwest. Of that number, 10 were 100,000 net square feet (nsf) or larger, and six were large enough to make the TSE Gold 100 rankings of largest U.S. trade shows. Six shows were also featured on the most recent TSE Fastest 50 list of fastest-growing events.

After calibrating the totals to exclude outliers and those shows held on a non-annual basis, the Dashboard shows produced adjusted totals of 3,687,033 nsf of exhibit space, 8,094 exhibitors, and 287,855 attendees. The per-show average worked out to 229,877 nsf, 540 exhibitors and 17,991 attendees.

Only one show reported declines in all three metrics this year. Seven of the 18 shows were up in all three categories.

Growth Leaders

If 2015 is any indication, Informa hit the jackpot with its acquisition of Hanley Wood Exhibitions and its flagship World of Concrete (WOC). This year was the first WOC held under the Informa banner, and it produced sharp increases in all three metrics. Most notable was an 18.5% increase in exhibit space. The 668,538 nsf floor was more than 100,000 sf larger than last year, thanks to a 17.1% increase in the number of exhibitors. Attendance growth was also impressive, up 15.9% to 55,779.

Show Director Jackie James, who joined Informa with the rest of the Hanley Wood team, credited the growing momentum in construction with attracting a crowd seeking both new equipment and updated skills. “Attendees took more classes than they have in the last six years in order to sharpen their skills for what’s to come,” she said. “In addition, international attendees had a big impact this year, scouring the show for new tools and technology.”

The largest show of the month was MAGIC, which grew 3.5% and topped the 1 million nsf barrier. The growth in floor space was sparked by a 28.1% jump in the number of exhibitors. Attendance was up 8.6% to 76,000.

UBM Advanstar used the show to announce a strategic alliance with EUROVET/CURVEXPO that will launch yet another new show at the August edition of MAGIC and potentially keep the show’s overall growth rolling forward. Joe Loggia, CEO of UBM Advanstar, said the pending debut of the lingerie expo CURVENV@MAGIC “allows us to be more responsive to buyers’ needs by expanding the product offerings found at MAGIC.”

Other Growth Leaders

  • The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show gave San Antonio an even-greater Texas twang by bringing 8,277 ranchers and other members of the beef industry to Riverwalk and the Henry G. Gonzalez Convention Center. The show, which was already on the Fastest 50, grew 19% to 125,000 nsf despite a (16.6)% drop in the number of exhibitors.
  • iLandscape – The Illinois-Wisconsin Landscape Show took advantage of the February downtime in the Midwest to host more than 5,000 attendees in Schaumburg, IL. The number of exhibitors grew 18.6% to 210, and the exhibit floor was up 19.9% to 37,400 nsf.

The Complete Package

February’s highlights included the launch of PACK EXPO East, the latest spinoff of the behemoth biennial PACK EXPO. “All you have to do is look at the numbers to see how well PACK EXPO East met the need for packaging and processing in the Northeast,” said Senior Vice President Jim Pittas at PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. PACK EXPO East debuted in Philadelphia with 92,413 nsf and a crowd of more than 6,500. Because it was the inaugural show, PACK EXPO East was not included in the adjusted Dashboard totals.

The East Coast calendar also featured an established star of the trade show world. The North American International Toy Fair in New York dodged another blizzard and set a show record with 422,797 nsf of the latest creations that will appear on store shelves during the upcoming holiday shopping season. However, the number of exhibitors fell off (8.3)% from last year and attendance was down (6.5)% at 24,770.

“Exhibitors of all sizes reported that their booth traffic was high throughout the four-day show,” said Marian Bossard, senior vice president of global markets at the U.S. Toy Industry Association.

Top Cities

World of Concrete and Fashion Week cemented Las Vegas into the top spot among host cities for February. Las Vegas hosted four Dashboard shows totaling 1,915,038 nsf. Three of the shows were connected to Fashion Week: MAGIC, The OFFPRICE SHOW and WomensWear in Nevada. The Toy Fair was enough to put New York City in second place, and No. 3 New Orleans hosted a pair of shows totaling 399,711 nsf. 

Next Month

The doctors are in this Spring. May’s exhibition calendar includes a healthy dose of medical conferences, including four that are ranked on the latest Gold 100, Fastest 50, or both.

The largest will likely be the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago. ASCO is one of the highest-profile medical meetings of the year. It is closely watched by Wall Street pharma analysts and also made the Fastest 50 and Gold 100. Organizers are expecting more than 500 exhibitors and 28,000-plus attendees, more than half from overseas.

The calendar also includes the American Psychiatric Association in Toronto; American Thoracic Society in Denver; American Society of Critical Care Nurses in San Diego; and American Society for Microbiology in New Orleans.

McCormick Place will also host the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

LIGHTFAIR International moves to New York this year after establishing a show record 239,800 nsf in Las Vegas last year. Las Vegas hosts JCK Las Vegas and the National Hardware Show, while Premiere Orlando looks to maintain the growth rate that landed it on the most recent Gold 100 and Fastest 50.