Tradeshow business set to contract 60% due to Covid-19

Tradeshow business is set to contract by 60% compared to 2019, according to global association of the exhibition industry, UFI.

€158bn (US$180bn) of total output and 1.9m jobs are already affected in exhibition and tourism-related activities and €260bn (USD 296bn) of contracts between exhibition participants not generated as expected, according to the updated Covid-19 damage assessment for the industry issued by UFI, which covers the full year of 2020. Globally, industry revenues for the first half of 2020 dropped by two-thirds on average, compared with the same period last year, UFI reports.

Looking at 2020 as a whole, the association says it is currently expected that revenues will represent only:

  • 44% of those from 2019 in Europe and North America
  • 39% in Asia-Pacific
  • 33% in Central and South America
  • 31% in the Middle East & Africa.

These numbers are based directly on the results from the UFI Global Exhibition Barometer released last week, which assessed the level of activity of companies for the first half of 2020, and their expectations for the second half of 2020.

Exhibitions have a direct impact on the territories where they are held. The total output not produced – for the exhibition industry itself (venues, organisers, service providers) and for all the industries that benefit from participants’ expenditure (accommodation, restaurants, transport) – is estimated to be a minimum of €158bn (US$180bn):

  • €52bn (US$59bn) for Europe
  • €67bn (US$76bn) for North America
  • €35bn (US$40bn) for Asia-Pacific.

This translates into 1.9m jobs affected globally. Exhibitions are strong communication channels for companies to develop their business. The lack of exhibitions, combined with the fact that many international tradefairs have been postponed, has put a hold on contracts being drawn up between exhibitors and visitors because they meet at exhibitions.

Based on current predictions, a minimum of €260bn of contracts were not signed, though some of them have hopefully just been delayed. “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the exhibition industry is severe. Despite gradual reopening in many parts of the world, many companies in the exhibition industry face huge revenue drops and profit loss. This also impacts all participants who sign contracts on the showfloor. It is important that governments, local authorities and the industry work together to facilitate the reopening of exhibitions, and primarily B-to-B events, as they have a critical role to play in the recovery of economies and societies,” says Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director and CEO.

The 25th UFI Global Barometer survey, released on 16 July 2020, can be downloaded here for free.