Organizers of the Chinaplas 2009 trade show said final attendance figures this year fell about 4 percent from 2008 levels, but overall they were pleased with turnout and show activity amid the economic slowdown.
Final figures show attendance of 69,300, compared with 72,200 last year. The show did have some notable non-exhibitors this year, such as some of the largest Japanese machinery firms.
The event, which was held May 18-21 in Guangzhou, is China's largest plastic trade show and one of the world's biggest. Given the economic situation and the upcoming NPE2009 show in Chicago in June, industry officials are paying particular attention to show attendance numbers.
About 16 percent of the visitors, or nearly 11,400, came from outside China.
Stanley Chu, chairman of show organizer Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd., predicted in a May 21 interview at the show that final attendance might be about 10 percent below the 2008 event, held in Shanghai, but final figures seem to have held up better.
He said part of the drop is due to the economic crisis, but he also said the Shanghai show tends to attract more interest. Chu said this year's show would have more visitors than in 2007, the last time it was in Guangzhou.
Chinaplas is a yearly show that alternates between Guangzhou and Shanghai.
The show also had the noticeable absence this year of some large resin manufacturers, including Bayer MaterialScience AG and Samsung Total Petrochemicals Co. Ltd., along with most of the large Japanese injection press makers, which traditionally bring their technology to display at the event and have a sizeable presence in mainland China.
Chu said most of the Japanese press makers are losing money and have curtailed promotion efforts. Japan's economy contracted at a 15 percent annualized pace in the first quarter.
Chu said he believed that because the show is about the same size as last year in exhibitor space (about 1.5 million square feet), and attendance remained solid, that is an indication that companies continue to look for opportunities and await a turnaround.
Judging by the turnout of visitors coming to Chinaplas and the buyers, people are thinking the financial crisis will be gone one day, that we won't have a financial crisis every year, he said. For the companies who have the resources, this may be the time to increase their market share.
People's confidence has been boosted, he said. Most people said we really needed something to help us during this financial crisis.
Chu said response for next year's show in Shanghai, scheduled for April 19-22, is strong, and the smaller Shanghai facility will likely be short about 215,000 square feet in space for exhibitors.
He said Adsale, based in Hong Kong, is not sure what to do, but does not want to have tent exhibition halls as in the past and may consider measures like restricting exhibitors from expanding their space from previous years.
Clarifying how Chinaplas calculates its visitor figures, Chu said attendance figures do not include exhibitor personnel. They measure unique visitors and count each attendee only once, even if that person attends multiple days.