The exhibition industry is enjoying a growth spurt with a year-over-year gain of 1.8 percent during the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period last year. Although weaker than the 3.5 percent uptick reported for the fourth quarter of 2017, it still indicates stability. The good news comes from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), an organization that, among other services, helps its stakeholders meet current and emerging customer needs and strengthen their competitive position.

“The increase in the first quarter supports our prediction that the exhibition industry will finally enter into an expansion phase in 2018 with the Total Index surpassing its previous peak,” said CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc., in the report.

The CEIR Total Index measures four areas of conference growth: revenue, exhibition square footage, and number of attendees and exhibitors. All exhibition metrics in Q1 posted positive year-over-year gains: net square feet (two percent), exhibitors (.7 percent), attendees (1.8 percent) and real revenues (2.8 percent). Among the exhibition markets in the report showing robust year-over-year gains were building, construction, home and repair, industrial/heavy machinery and government. In contrast, consumer goods and retail trade, and education posted year-over-year declines.

Both construction and education were identified among the top-10 industries buying promotional products, according to PPAI’s 2017 Sales Volume Study. In the study of top-buying markets, revenue from exhibitions was captured within the market it serves instead of presenting it as a stand-alone industry.