The slower rate of economic growth in Germany and greater uncertainties regarding foreign trade had only a slight dampening effect on the German exhibition industry in 2018. Exhibitor and stand space figures increased once again. In particular, exhibitors and visitors from abroad continued to make strong use of Germany as an exhibition location. These are results of the final analysis by AUMA – the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry.

The 178 international and national exhibitions hosted an average of 2% more exhibitors and also 2% more stand space compared to their respective preceding events. Although these figures lie somewhat below the extraordinarily strong results for 2017 (exhibitors +3.7%, stand space +3.1%), they confirm the positive trend for exhibitions as an instrument that was already being widely used. Visitor figures remained stable at a high level once again.

The 178 exhibitions registered a total of 9,572,767 visitors and 194,815 exhibitors who booked 7,130,830 m² of stand space.

The boom in digital media has detracted only slightly from exhibitions. According to AUMA Chairman Walter Mennekes, “The fascination of experiencing real colours, shapes and processes speaks for the long-term success of the exhibition model.”

Industrial goods trade fairs performed strongly with a marked increase in stand space and a small increase in visitors, whilst consumer goods trade fairs experienced slight declines in visitor numbers in many cases. Results from international public shows were stable on average.

Trade disputes without impact thus far

Participation from abroad increased at the considerably above-average rate of 4.4% – a remarkable result given talk and also implementation of additional tariffs and the associated uncertainties regarding the further development of international trade. The number of visitors from abroad increased by a good 3%. Nevertheless, the AUMA chairman warned against further protectionism. “Even though no noteworthy impacts were evident, announcements alone generate uncertainty and negative effects for economies – very often also in the countries of origin. We therefore appeal to the federal government and the EU to clearly and unmistakably emphasise the mutual dependencies of the countries affected.”

Of the 178 events included in 2018, 132 (75%) have been certified by the FKM – Society for the Voluntary Control of Fair and Exhibition Statistics. The corresponding trade fair figures such as the number of exhibitors and visitors as well as data on the visitor structure are available in the FKM online trade fair database.

Forecast for 2019

German exhibition companies’ revenues exceeded the 4-billion-euro mark for the first time in 2018, a year with a relatively high number of events according to the exhibitions’ cycles. In 2019, a year including a relatively small exhibition program, revenue is expected to be around 3.8 billion euros. For the 165 exhibitions planned for the current year, AUMA anticipates continued slight growth in exhibitor numbers and stand space compared to the preceding respective events. Visitor numbers are expected to remain nearly stable. This however assumes no significant decline in overall economic conditions.