More than 100K expected to attend CES 2023

CES returns to Las Vegas this week, and organizers expect that on-site attendance will cross the six-figure mark as the annual event continues to inch back to pre-pandemic levels.

"It's gonna be a big event. We're expecting over 100,000 attendees ... from probably over 100 countries worldwide," Steve Koenig, VP of research at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), said on the Light Reading Podcast. Koenig, who offered a preview of the show and what topics are expected to gain the most attention in Las Vegas, said north of 2,800 exhibitors are expected to be on-site. And this year's show, which runs January 5-8, will support more than 2.1 million net square feet of space.

By comparison, about 45,000 people attended CES 2022 in person, and the show hosted about 2,300 exhibitors.

Like last year's event, CES 2023 will be a hybrid of sorts – alongside in-person attendance, CTA will offer digital/streaming access to select parts of the event, including certain keynotes.

While this year's CES will eclipse last year's from an on-site attendance standpoint, Koenig notes that it will likely be 50,000 to 70,000 below the maximums that were seen before the pandemic.

"I think it definitely is a step in the right direction," Koenig said. "If the pandemic taught us one thing, it's the importance of in-person events ... To really get business done, you've got to be face-to-face – at least that's the feedback from our membership constituency and other business leaders around the world."

Tech trends under the spotlight

Koenig also dug into some of the tech trends that are expected to soak up some of the spotlight at this year's show, including various components and elements that are poised to help shape whatever the so-called metaverse eventually becomes.

Koenig acknowledged that the metaverse remains a "speculative term," but notes that CES will show "that there is substance forming around this very nascent trend" from a technology and business perspective.

While new connected gizmos and gadgets will be everywhere at this year's event, Koenig points out that research shows US household discretionary spending is steering toward "experiences" rather than "things."

Inflationary pressures

Turning to the economy, Koenig acknowledged that the CE industry is still feeling the pain of inflation and supply chain constraints.

"Consumers are paying more for everything ... so some replacement cycles will be stretched out, and people will be earnestly prioritizing purchases," he explained. "So, we expect 2022, at a total industry level, will be down in the low single-digits in terms of retail sales."

You can download a lightly edited transcript of the podcast here. If you want to skip around and listen, here are a few topics discussed during this podcast:

  • Koenig offers an update on the status and expectations for this year's CES, including some updated stats for the on-site portion of the show (1:15)
  • Koenig notes that this year's event will eclipse the size of the 2022 confab, but says the overall numbers will still likely be below those of pre-pandemic CES events (5:00)
  • Koenig provides a preview of the CTA's Industry Forecast Update, which will be released this week during the show (7:00)
  • Koenig digs into some of the economic trends, such as inflation, that are having a negative impact on the consumer electronics industry, and offers a sense on when the situation might start to rebound (8:00)
  • Koenig discusses some of the top tech trends and technologies that will share the spotlight at this week's show (12:45)
  • Koenig says elements and components that will establish the building blocks for the so-called metaverse will be on display, including emerging "olfactory virtual reality" technologies that are poised to make VR and metaverse experiences increasingly immersive (20:00)

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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