According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of the Ox began on 12 February. The Year of the Ox holds qualities that bode well for the exhibitions and events industry. In reading up on this, I found that the Ox is very hardworking and methodical. This is a year in which hard work will be rewarded, and those who are going to make money in 2021 will be the ones that will make a considerable effort in doing so. Further, the Ox signifies movements and this year should be a favorable year for economic recovery or consolidation, and a year for long-term investments. Interesting!
There are signs that vaccinations are working with COVID-19 cases falling globally, and I am happy to see some positive movement with cities opening up and exhibitions being held. While we still have a long way to go, it is a start. More good news has been received from CEIR’s economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., President and Chief Economist, with Global Economic Consulting Associates.
The U.S. real retail and food services sales for January was a surprise. Seasonally adjusted retail sales surged 5.0% from the previous month, compared to a census estimate of about 1.0%. On a year-over-year basis, it was up 6.0%. Given the much larger starting month and a larger than expected fiscal package, real GDP growth for 2021 should be higher than the previous forecast, 5.0% versus 4.3%.
This is important as the B2B exhibitions industry typically aligns with GDP. However, with the extreme disruption the pandemic has caused, the recovery of the exhibition industry will almost solely depend on when people feel safe to travel, which in turn, depends on the state of vaccination distribution, travel restrictions due to strict budgeting within companies, and new COVID-19 confirmed cases. It is probably not a surprise that Q3 2021 is when some of the larger shows will return. We are hearing that there are logjams with organizers trying to find available dates. This is good news, indeed.
I wish each of you a healthy and successful Year of the Ox.
Cathy Breden, CMP, CAE, CEM