Global exhibitions market value nosedives 70% due to Covid-19

14 October 2020 3 min. read
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With many of the world’s largest corporate exhibitions having been cancelled due to the coronavirus, the global exhibition industry will see 70% of its value wiped out this year, making it one of the worst effected sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of 2019, there were approximately 32,000 exhibitions each year, featuring 4.5 million exhibiting companies and attracting over 303 million visitors. Events this included range across the entire industrial gamut, from automotive producers to defence to the latest in communications technology. Due to the lucrative nature of the industries participating in the global exhibitions industry then, exhibitors and visitors combined spend billions every year on the process, making exhibitions themselves a significant global industry – one linked directly and indirectly to roughly 3.2 million total jobs worldwide.

Initially, the new decade looked to be a period of booming revenues for the exhibition market, with one analysis suggesting that the global exhibition market size would grow at a CAGR of over 3% up to 2025.

AMR estimes that the global exhibitions market will contract by c70 percent in 2020

According to the study released in March, the market was set for considerable expansion, even though the US, Germany and China – the three largest market for exhibitions – looked likely to suffer early blows from the virus. It even noted the fact events such as Mobile World Congress, IMEX, ITB Travel Trade Show, or the Geneva Auto Show had already been cancelled.

Fast forward six months, the picture has significantly darkened for the events industry, with the coronavirus pandemic continuously deepening across Europe and the Americas in particular. A new study from strategic consultancy AMR International has estimated that the global exhibitions market is set to contract by a colossal 70% in 2020.

AMR had similarly expected the global exhibitions market to grow steadily to 2021, predicting it would see 4% CAGR throughout this year, with Southeast Asia high on the radar for international organisers. While China has recovered strongly from being the initial epicentre of the outbreak, the same has not been true across many other leading markers.

In a significant revision of its previous forecast, AMR now expects that the industry will be worth approximately $8.9 billion by the end of 2020. In the fourth quarter, AMR expects the market size to drop by $6.6 billion.

Florent Jarry, Head of AMR’s Global Events Practice stated, “The pandemic is having a devastating impact across the global exhibitions market. However, the situation does vary strongly by country, with China and Brazil respectively least and worst hit.”

Notably, the firm's analysis focuses on major markets, so a total value of the market including smaller countries would be a bit higher – but still, this is not expected to have a major influence on the overall trend.

According to previous research by AMR, the largest exhibition organiser in the world is Informa Markets which had a 2018 revenue close to $2 billion. It is followed by nearest rivals Reed Exhibitions, which brought in $1.6 billion in the same period, and Meese Frankfurt, which earned around $700 million.