After a slight dip at the end of last year, the exhibition industry grew modestly, posting a year-over-year gain of 1.6 percent, in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).

CEIR had previously reported that after 25 consecutive quarters of growth, exhibitions declined by 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016. These new numbers give meeting planners reason to be optimistic about the continued growth of trade shows and exhibitions.

“The increase in the first quarter validates our prediction that economic fundamentals still point to moderate growth for the exhibition industry,” said CEIR economist Allen Shaw regarding the CEIR Index Report.

Gains were led by these sectors: food; building, construction, home and repair; communications and information technology; and government. Declines were seen in the sectors of education and nonprofit; consumer goods and retail trade; and business. Raw materials and science, the weakest sector in 2016, has “started to stabilize as attendance rebounded sharply,” The CRIP report said.

The CEIR Index Report measures year-over-year changes in four key metrics:

  • Net square feet of exhibit space sold
  • Professional attendance
  • Number of exhibiting companies
  • Total event gross revenue

Of these four factors, revenues grew the most. CEIR reported that real revenues increased 2.3 percent year over year. Square footage and number of attendees also made gains, which points to a growing trend of larger events with more attendees.

“I am pleased to see attendance rebound in the first quarter and am optimistic both attendance and the CEIR Total Index will continue to grow, despite uncertainty in the marketplace,” said CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE.