Large events continue to be scheduled with cancellations dropping month-on-month according to the latest data: Leading Demand Indicators August 2021

Published on August 15, 2021
Matthew Hicks
Director of Data Assurance

The pandemic recovery continues to be chaotic and dynamic, with states and cities responding differently. Large events are returning across the USA at scale and have been for several months now. Today we want to put the volume of cancellations and postponements in context to provide some clarity for the many businesses and states wondering what happens next. 

Given the significant demand drivers that many events are, businesses need to know about new events, cancellations and postponements as quickly as possible. While there is increasing coverage of event cancellations, in terms of nationwide trends, cancellations and postponements remain fairly minimal so far (more detail below)

To quickly put the rate of cancellations and postponements in perspective, in the first two weeks of August there were:

  • 5,756 attended events across the USA with more than 300 attendees per event i.e. sports, conferences, concerts, expos, performing arts, festivals, conference, academic events. 

  • 569 cancelled events

  • 132 postponed events

  • Note: Events that are postponed but have no new date yet are listed as cancelled until a new date is identified.

Our systems track 19 categories of events, aggregated from hundreds of sources and verified. We are constantly re-verifying all events so we have unique insight into the rate of new events being cancelled, postponed and scheduled. Here’s a summary as to the situation as of August 16, 2021.

Quick context: 38,000+ events with more than 300 people across the US in the next 90 days

Significantly sized events (300 or more attendees) continue to rise across the USA. There are more than 38,000 events with 300 people or more scheduled in the next 90 days, compared to ~27,000 over the previous 90 days. 

These include sports, expos, festivals, and concerts, all of which were quick to recover, but also conferences and performing arts events, which are returning at a slower rate. There are also massively impactful events such as severe weather, school holidays and more that PredictHQ’s systems track, but the below report focuses on attended events.

With the NFL regular season, NCAA football season and more starting in the next month, the steady return of events is likely to continue. Previously, the big question has been how does this compare to “normal”, or pre-pandemic levels. As we detail in this report, combined event attendance is now at more than 70% of 2019 levels. 

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22% of events in July were cancelled or postponed, but this is lower than previous months

More people are talking about event cancellations and postponements, given the delay or cancellation of some large, higher profile events. But the amount of events being postponed or cancelled in 2021 is dropping month-on-month. Whether that trend continues in August is to be seen, but it also reveals how dynamic events are in the US right now.

Below is a graph of the scheduling, postponement and cancellation rates over the last three months of events with more than 300 attendees:

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This includes some notable cancelled events including:

  • The New York International Auto Show at the Jacob K Jarvis Center from August 20 - 29 with 800,000 people previously expected to attend.

  • The Edina Art Fair in Hennepin County, MInnesota, from August 20 - 22 with 300,000 people previously expected to attend.

  • MCAS Miramar Air Show in San Diego County from September 24 - 26 with 500,000 people previously expected to attend.

  • New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at Fair Grounds Race Course from October 8 - 17 with 380,000 people previously expected to attend.

  • The Solano Avenue Stroll in Alameda County on September 12 with 180,000 people previously expected to attend.

But for every cancelled event, there are thousands going ahead. While some of these may be cancelled or postponed, this is yet another reason why tracking events can not be done manually.

How to use new events, cancellations and postponements in demand forecasting and planning

In many ways, the pandemic has never been harder to plan around than it is right now. In mid 2020, almost all attended events were cancelled, and in mid 2021, events were surging back with impact beyond 2019 levels in some states

As of mid August, this doesn’t show much sign of abating. But as always, when the situation changes, your strategies need to also. For example, while mask mandates are back in several cities, so far states have held off implementing restrictions such as maximum event size or similar. This is the kind of event that has a significant impact on demand and events.

Now more than ever, companies need to be identifying reliable external data sources that can provide scalable context and insight into what is going on at each of their locations. Intelligent event data, including health warnings and lockdowns, is a key part of that, so please get in touch with our team to ensure you have the demand intelligence to make the best decisions in these chaotic times.