Since we last drew up the "Top 200" events table at the end of 2009, no fewer than six of the 40 largest may fail to appear in 2012 (Motor Show, SED, one of the Caravan Shows, InterBuild, Glassex and InterPlas). The top 40 boasts only three shows that have "arrived in from the cold" in that period, and, interestingly, all three have been created by small operations outside the mainstream (Grand Designs by Media 10, Ecobuild by David Wood and Counter Terror Expo by Niche Events). The problem with shows which disappear is that they can no longer be compared like-for-like - hence the disappearance of the Motor Show is NOT refl ected in the median consumer attendance fi gures in 2009 and 2010 (in reality, therefore, those fi gures should be worse than they are).Of our largest 10 events, only two have increased their attendances between 2006 and 2010: World Travel Market and DSEi. Of the others, half have shown declines of at least 15 per cent (such as the Furniture Show, Autumn Fair International and Ideal Home Show).What does it all mean?It is diffi cult to produce a coherent explanation for such a disparate set of numbers. What seems to have happened is that a lot of "largish" consumer events, which reported attendances of 20,000-40,000 towards the height of a booming market in 2005 and 2006, have either disappeared or are now refusing to publish audited attendance fi gures. Presumably, this is because they are smaller (it is always far easier to get information in a rising market). The disappearance of these shows affects the "average" number dramatically, while the decline of a medium-sized trade show (from perhaps 6,000 visitors to 5,000) has virtually no effect on the average.It also needs to be stressed that, as an industry, the loss of individual events does not necessarily have a dramatic effect on company health (it is not like a human body losing a leg). For example, the loss of The British International Motor Show took more than 10 per cent of the industry's annual visitors out - a massive number - but apart from the immediate effect on the staff who worked on it, Excel London, those that built the stands and so on, it does not affect the rest of the industry. The London Vet Show meanwhile, goes from strength to strength, Top Drawer continues to look good and Brand Events generates good, new ideas. In other words, most of us work in silos that do not suffer much collateral damage when a large event disappears. Trade shows still represent nearly 75 per cent of the UK industry's turnover - consumer shows being the rest - and an upturn in median attendance in 2010, plus relatively limited decline of just 8 per cent in attendance in fi ve years should be seen as good rather than bad news. This is tiny compared with newspaper and magazines circulation falls, for instance. It suggests a resilience, which helps explain why exhibitions are now considered such valuable media properties. EN EXHIBITION NEWS research22 MAY 2011 EXHIBITIONNEWS.CO.UKGrand Designs Live: one of three new entrants to the top 40 UK exhibitions listTABLE A: Raw average attendance at ALL exhibitions which reported their visitors in the years 2005-2010. Note that the lack of The British International Motor Show in 2010 reduces that average by 1,500.TABLE B: Change in the median attendance at trade and consumer Shows 2006-2010. Comparisons are all like-for-like (i.e. compares the same shows in 2007/2008, 2008/2009 but this does not mean that the sample stays identical between 2007 and 2010).
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