Coronavirus Claims $1B in Tech Event Revenue—So Far. Is the Next Recession Coming?

Published: March 9, 2020

It wasn’t that long ago when several prominent AV industry leaders expressed confidence in our State of the Industry report that 2020 would be another robust year for the space and we wouldn’t have to worry about the next recession for a while—barring something unexpected. [related]

Enter the coronavirus.

All of sudden, things in the technology world look a whole lot different, with one estimate putting the amount of revenue lost by some of the events being canceled around the world in excess of $1 billion. That’s “billion” with a “B.”

And the report citing that billion-dollar loss doesn’t even include AV and security industry events that have already been wiped out or delayed by the spread of and concern about the coronavirus, including the Almo E4 Experience in Santa Clara, Calif.; ISC West in Las Vegas; and NEC Showcase in Tustin, Calif.

Major exhibitors continue to withdraw from Enterprise Connect in Orlando, Fla., later this month, putting that annual event in some jeopardy as well. Organizers of the Digital Signage Expo and NAB Show continue to insist their events this month will go as schedule in Las Vegas though.

If only there were someone who could figure out a way for people to meet or get information they need when they can’t be in the same place at the same time.

Will Coronavirus Cause a Recession?

It’s certainly far too early to say we’re entering or even nearing a recession, but it’s no longer as much of a longshot as it was in the minds of AV industry leaders just a few months ago. Even at the NSCA Business & Leadership Conference in late February, economist Chris Kuehl didn’t seem to expect it.

He called a recession by the third quarter of 2020 “not impossible,” but added those predictions “may be a little overwrought.” Of course, that was before the coronavirus had truly taken hold in the U.S. and the fear about it continued to spread at least as strongly as the virus itself.

Now, we’re at a point where stock traders are being asked to hold off on trading for a while as some major brands continue to tank and it’s almost a daily occurrence that an industry event is canceled or rescheduled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak or concerns among exhibitors and attendees.

I’m scheduled to attend the PSNI Supersummit in Houston at the end of March and will go as planned unless I’m told otherwise. I continue to believe it’s important to live as normal of a life as possible in times like this, obviously factoring in health risks in whatever you do and hoping others will too.

We’ll likely see AV integrators scrambling a bit to complete projects on time as production facilities in China are affected by the pandemic, but let’s hope we don’t see big companies stall their plans for AV upgrades because then that recession we all thought was years away could be here a lot sooner.

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