In 2008, the exhibition industry experienced its first decline since 2002, decreasing 3.1% versus 2007, according to The CEIR Index. Over the same period, the growth rate for real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 1.1%. Despite the growth in GDP last year, most economists have stated that the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, and in fact, GDP shrank 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2007.
During the first quarter of 2008, GDP grew 0.9%, but the second quarter of 2008 was the last for GDP growth, at a rate of 2.8%. Second quarter GDP was helped by the $168 billion federal tax rebate, which spurred consumer spending and drove economic growth. GDP receded 0.5% in the third quarter of 2008 and then declined sharply in the fourth quarter, by 6.2%.
The 2008 quarterly results for the overall exhibition industry reflected the pattern of GDP, as the industry grew 0.5% in the first quarter of the year, was flat in the second quarter, and then declined in the third and fourth quarters at rates of 6.0% and 5.7% respectively. In fact, all four key industry metrics declined in the third and fourth quarters of 2008, as compared to 2007.
The following graph shows the CEIR Index metrics for the overall exhibition industry from 2000 to 2008