Industry reports deep cuts but remains optimistic

Gwen Kaufmann - Thursday, July 23, 2020    

Photo: UFI

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the exhibition industry is severe: Globally, 85% of companies declared that their overall level of activity was "normal" in January. This quickly dropped to 15% in March, to reach between 5% and 6% in April, May and June. For both April and May, 73% of companies worldwide declared "no activity". These are the results of the most recent edition of the UFI Global Barometer research, which takes the pulse of the industry. With a majority of companies expecting "local" and "national" exhibitions to open again during the second half of 2020, the level of activity is expected to slowly increase, and two companies out of three project at least a "reduced" level of activity in the last quarter of 2020. In all regions, a majority of companies believe that exhibitions with an international scope will not open until 2021. Globally, revenues for the first half of 2020 dropped by two thirds on average, compared with the same period last year. Looking at 2020 as a whole, it is currently expected that globally revenues will represent only 39% of those of 2019. In terms of profits, a strong level of performance was reached in 2019, with 45% of companies declaring an increase of more than 10% for 2019 when compared with 2018. The sharp drop in revenues that occurred in 2020 has led to a loss for 39% of companies, and only 7% of companies currently expect a stable or increased profit for 2020. 44% of companies that participated in the research have stopped all of their investments. At the same time, 50% of companies are increasing their investments in digitalisation programmes. By comparison, investments have decreased or been stopped for 55% of companies in programmes related to diversity, and 54% in those related to sustainability. The survey also tackles possible driving trends for the format of exhibitions in the coming years. Global results indicate that 57% are confident that "COVID-19 confirms the value of face-to-face events", anticipating that the sector will bounce back quickly, whereas 31% are "not sure" and 12% are "not sure at all" or "disagree completely". "On the back of an exceptional year in 2019, we are now seeing an unprecedented drop in revenues around the world. While the industry remains confident that it will bounce back, everyone is aware that this crisis will lead to major changes in the way exhibitions are produced, especially with a push towards more digital elements before, during, and between events," says Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director and CEO. This latest edition of UFI's bi-annual industry survey was conducted in June 2020 and includes data from a record 459 companies in 62 countries and regions. (ufi)


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Markets | Corona Virus | COVID-19 | UFI Global Barometer | research | value | face-to-face | global | revenue | pandemic | Kai Hattendorf | UFI