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  • UFI releases framework for a unified approach for show management to reopen shows, advocate with policy makers post COVID19 pandemic.
  • Germany excludes exhibitions from “mass gatherings”category, gives states authority to open shows, N. Rhine-Westphalia to open shows in May.
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Marvelous May Despite Sag in Attendance

Hil Anderson
, Senior Editor
July 1, 2015



Oceanside, CA – Trade show metrics continued to climb during May, although a slight dip in attendance indicated that the bullish sentiment was not unanimous.

Attendance during the final month of Spring was (0.9)% smaller than in May 2014, but the exhibitor side remained robust with exhibitors and exhibit space, both increasing more than 4.0%. That compared with a heady month of April in which exhibit space jumped 6.5%, exhibitors grew 4.1% and attendance increased 4.5%.

As is frequently the case with the Dashboard, major exhibitions, such as The National Hardware Show, LIGHTFAIR International and RECon, The Global Retail Real Estate Convention, stoked the growth engine with solid increases in all three metrics.

There were 22 shows surveyed for the May edition of the Trade Show Executive Dashboard of Monthly Trade Show Metrics. After calibrating the results to exclude outliers, their performance added up to an adjusted total of 5,068,794 net square feet (nsf), 14,953 exhibitors and 492,656 attendees. The May metrics translated to a per-show average of 266,779 nsf, 787 exhibitors and 25,929 attendees.

May featured some 13 events of 100,000 nsf or more of exhibit space. Nine of those shows, in fact, were large enough to be included in the 2014 TSE Gold 100 which honors the largest shows in the nation; four shows were part of the most recent TSE Fastest 50, which recognizes the fastest-growing shows in the U.S. each year.

Half of the May Dashboard shows reported across-the-board growth in their metrics and only one declined in all three. Moreover, the majority of red ink could be found at shows and conferences with less than 100,000 nsf of exhibit space.

Growth Leaders

  • LIGHTFAIR International (LFI) organizers were aglow after tallying double-digit increases in attendance and exhibit space that set new records. “LIGHTFAIR has been the world’s stage for lighting and design for 26 years,” said Jeffrey Portman, vice chairman and COO of AmericasMart Atlanta. “At LFI 2015, technology was a force linking innovation and design in transformative ways.” The New York show lit up the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Exhibit space surged 12.0% to 268,580 nsf and attendance increased 14.7% to 29,900. Exhibitor numbers grew a respectable 4.0% to 599. The international side of LFI was impressive with visitors from 89 nations. The theme of the show was tied to the United Nations’ declaration of 2015 as the “International Year of Light.” LIGHTFAIR signed on as a major sponsor of the year-long event.
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting is one of the most closely watched medical meetings of the year. The event’s plenary and late-breaking sessions once again included the unveiling of major clinical studies expected to impact standards of cancer care, not to mention Wall Street. This year’s conference in Chicago repeated the strong performance last year that placed ASCO on the 2015 Fastest 50 and Gold 100. At this year’s show, attendance was pegged at 37,000 oncologists and other care providers from a wide range of specialties, a 6.5% increase over 2014. The exhibitor side sizzled with a 15% jump in exhibitors and a 16.4% boost in exhibit space to 298,059 nsf.
  • EASTEC made its biennial appearance on the Dashboard and did not disappoint as the manufacturing sector continued its post-recession recovery. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers reported a 3.5% increase in attendance at the regional East Coast show, which was again held in West Springfield, MA. The number of exhibitors included 104 first-timers, burgeoning15.2%. The show floor grew 10.8% to 143,435 nsf and was the venue for the debut of 318 new products.“New England has historically been a leading area in capitalizing on American innovation,” said Senior Event Manager Kimberly Farrugia. “EASTEC is committed to keeping New England manufacturers competitive by bringing human ingenuity and manufacturing innovation together in a face-to-face environment.”

Bricks & Bolts

The fading of the brick-and-mortar retailer may have been exaggerated, at least as determined by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) at the conclusion of a highly successful RECon in Las Vegas.

The show for store and mall developers hit post-recession highs with more than 36,000 attendees, an increase of 5.9% over last year and 840,529 nsf of exhibit space, a 3.8% improvement over 2014. The largest increase was 7.8% in the number of exhibitors. ICSC President and CEO Michael Kercheval said, “The number of people who flocked to RECon this year was testimony to the growth of the global economy and the health of the shopping center model.”

Another building sector show also performed well. The National Hardware Show grew 8.2% to 608,000 nsf and bumped up its exhibitor roster by 11.0% to 2,234. Attendance went up 1.7% to 32,385, ensuring that the aisles were always busy.

“This year’s show was a great success,” said Reed Exhibitions Industry Vice President Rich Russo. “Based on the activity on the floor each day and feedback we’ve received, it sounds like everyone took advantage of the opportunities to learn, network, discover new products and build new relationships.”

Top Cities

A trio of Gold 100 shows ushered Las Vegas to the top of the monthly leader board among host cities. Las Vegas hosted a total of four Dashboard shows in May, including RECon, totaling 1,880,823 nsf. The city’s smallest show analyzed in the Dashboard was the EDS Summit, which checked in a still-sizable 180,000 nsf.

Chicago took second place with two shows totaling 936,383 nsf. The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show was joined by ASCO.

Offshore Technology Show was enough to put Houston in the top three with 695,005 nsf.

Coming Up Next Month

August is all about fashion and the major trade events that have a major influence on the new styles for 2016.

The dominant show is MAGIC – August, a perennial Gold 100 show and frequent leader of the Fastest 50. The sprawling show has continued expanding around the 1,000,000 nsf mark and settling in under UBM’s new ownership.

MAGIC is the massive sun around which semi-annual Fashion Week Las Vegas and its bevy of satellite shows orbit. One to watch is STITCH, the Business Journals International semi-annual Fastest 50 event for the women’s ready-to-wear sector.

Another semi-annual is NY Now, which this Summer has 2,600 exhibitors, including 400 new participants, signed up and ready to show off a wide range of gift ideas for the holidays.

Outdoor Retailer introduced a handful of new exhibitor features last year which helped set a show record for exhibit space and drew a solid crowd of 27,000 to Salt Lake City. Emerald Expositions is looking to exceed those levels in 2015.

Meanwhile, show organizers and other trade show industry participants will motor into Detroit for the ASAE Annual Meeting & Expo.  Last year’s get-together in Nashville featured 440 exhibitors and drew a record of 3,159 association executives.