The Struggling Trade Show Industry

State of the Industry (Exhibitor Magazine)

In November 2009, we noted how the business-to-business trade show industry is suffering during this tough economy. In the latest issue of Exhibitor Magazine, the evidence is even stronger. Their annual report on the state of the trade show industry for 2009, which is based on research undertaken by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), presents the industry in a highly depressed state.

What is possibly most disconcerting is that the numbers are continuing to decline as 2009 was worse than 2008. In fact, as this story states the decline “is four times greater than any other decrease in recorded history.” Now the CEIR is an industry group involved with promoting trade show marketing, so for this organization to present such a tough picture suggests that things could possibly be even worse.

While the trade show industry is clearly struggling, the report does offer a glimmer of hope by suggesting that things may be recovering.Unfortunately, the trade show business tends to lag economic recovery so their problems could continue for some time.

According to CEIR, “It took approximately three quarters for the exhibition industry to start growing again following the end of the 2001 recession. However, the 2001 recession was significantly shallower and briefer. With economic forecasters predicting slow growth in 2010, the exhibition industry may not see year-over-year growth until the fourth quarter of 2010.”

Which of the poor performers shown in the Total-Show Performance chart are most likely to continue to see poor performance for an extended period?


The Struggling Trade Show Industry. June 28, 2010. From Marketing Insights.   Retrieved March 26, 2023  from