Exhibitions in 2013 … After Avoiding the “Cliff” What is Next?

This post written by Doug Ducate, CEM, CMP, President and CEO, CEIR

The economic good news continues to thrive despite bad news cycles. First we avoid the fiscal cliff but certain tax increases survive. Then while employment numbers and other economic data are disappointing, the stock market stages an incredible rally. Finally the first of three GDP estimates for 2012 Q4 are released. Not only do they not reach the terrific 3.1% Q3 number, it actually comes in at -.1%. And as this is written, the market, reacting to a number of domestic issues and the rising concern for the economic situation in Europe, especially in Spain and Italy where it started, begins to tumble. Some analysts suggest we may have reached the high for the year on February 1, 2013.

So it now appears 2012 will mirror 2011. Good performance that fostered high hopes early in the year slumped in the end, and the growth we believed would finally be realized didn’t happen. U.S GDP is now expected to come in at about 2.3% for 2012 – the original forecast number. It is unlikely the exhibition industry will reach the projected 2.9% for the year after reaching 2.7% in 2011.

As we look at 2013, while we cleared one hurdle early, the fiscal cliff, we see many more hurdles ahead. First is likely to be the debt ceiling in March which may be as politically charged as the cliff debate. Beyond that it is the budget, immigration and continued implications of the Health Care Reform Act. Posturing for the 2014 mid-term elections has already begun.

In the meantime the exhibition industry continues to move forward. Early first-quarter, anecdotal data suggests it may be as strong as Q1 2011 which grew 3.9% YoY. A large number of building and constructions exhibitions are held in Q1 and all reported improving numbers as both residential and commercial building continue to recover. Whatever the outcome it is likely to be positive and the question will be can we continue the momentum?

The key for most companies today is profits. They dictate expenditures and availability of discretionary marketing dollars. And given the uncertainty of the economy, it is likely companies will continue to sit on cash and wait for a sustained recovery before they resume business expansion. Organizers should capitalize on the situation pointing out the value and advantages offered by face-to-face and providing additional marketing opportunities for companies to meet and reach clients and prospective clients at their events.

Keep a watch for the release of Q4 2012 CEIR Index results. They will be released soon

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