Home TopicAssociations UFI’s first assessment of Covid-19 impact on tradeshows finds ripple effect for industry

UFI’s first assessment of Covid-19 impact on tradeshows finds ripple effect for industry

by Paul Colston

A new assessment from global association for the exhibition industry, UFI, says that at least €23bn worth (US$26.3bn) of contracts are not being concluded with shows not taking place as planned.

Losses to date to the exhibition and events industry are put at a total output of €14.4bn (US$16.5bn).

The headlines are from the first global numbers that reflect the impact that tradeshow postponements and cancellations are having for both the exhibiting companies as well as for the tradeshow industry around the world.

“Globally, the fact that more than 500 tradeshows have not taken place in recent weeks is creating an escalating ripple effect for whole industries,” says Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director/CEO.

On every show floor, business gets done. Based on UFI data, the orders that exhibiting companies are currently not securing already add up to €23bn globally. Of this, UFI estimates lost orders of around €13bn in Asia/Pacific, and €9.7bn euros in Europe. As additional events continue to be postponed, these numbers will rise further in the weeks to come.

As an industry, the exhibitions industry generates a total economic output of €22.9bn per month globally on average, says UFI, and that translates into more than 270,000 FTE jobs. Based on the current numbers and size of the events not taking place, €14.4bn of economic output have already been lost, the association believes.

Hardest hit is Asia/Pacific, where the impact is already reaching more than €8.4bn. In Europe, with an ongoing wave of postponed and/or cancelled shows, the impact is already reaching €5.8bn. Calculations for other regions are underway. Many of the events that are not taking place this quarter are being postponed – and rescheduled to take place later in the year. This may help to reduce the mid-to-long-term impact.

“But even short-term postponements have an immediate impact because they delay scheduled business and revenues. This poses an existential risk, in particular for small and medium-sized companies,” says Christian Druart, UFI Research Manager.

“These numbers stress the critical importance exhibitions play in any economic recovery – market places and meeting places are the fastest fast track to drive any economic recovery,” says Hattendorf. “We rely on the joint efforts from policymakers and global leaders to ensure that the companies that organise these events, creating those necessary market and meeting places, will be able to continue to fulfil that role in the future. All of these companies are already suffering massively under the current wave of postponements and cancellations,” he concludes.


UFI directly represents more than 50,000 exhibition industry employees globally, and also works closely with its 60 national and regional association members. The association has 800 member organisations in 89 countries around the world and 1,000 international trade fairs bear the UFI approved label, a quality guarantee for visitors and exhibitors alike.


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