UK exhibition numbers on the rise says EIA Size and Scale Index

Last year, around 1,016 exhibitions took place at UK venues, according to the 2023 Size and Scale Index for Exhibitions (SASIE) report, published by the Event Industry Alliance (EIA). 

The total number of exhibitions was split evenly between trade (42%) and consumer (40%), with conferences that included more than 500sqm of exhibition space making up the remaining 18%. 

The report estimates that 6.92m people visited these 1,016 exhibitions in 2023 – a rise of 14% compared to the previous year, mainly due to a 12% increase in the number of shows. 

The leisure sector represented a fifth of all the exhibitions staged in 2023, followed by healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

ExCeL London, Olympia London, The NEC and SEC hosted around two-fifths of all the exhibitions and almost half (49%) of all the trade shows. These ‘primary’ venues also had the highest proportion of repeat events in 2023 at 72%. 

The study’s ‘secondary venues’ including ACC Liverpool, Business Design Centre, Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre, Harrogate Convention Centre, Telford International Centre, Manchester Central, P&J Live, and Coventry Building Society Arena hosted over a third of the exhibitions (36%). However, they staged a much higher proportion of the conferences with exhibitions (67%). 

Marija Erzen, co-owner, Solutions2, ESSA chair and current EIA chair said: “With over 1,000 exhibitions, the 2023 report shows the number of exhibitions was up significantly and at comparable levels to the pre-Covid period. Visitor and exhibitor numbers also showed signs of recovery although not yet reaching pre-Covid levels. We have seen some venues reporting their highest number of new show launches helping to truly underline the positive impact of the exhibitions industry on UK trade.” 


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