A growing number of companies withdrawing from the world’s largest annual trade show for the electronics industry—the CES Show, scheduled Jan. 5 to 8—may be a harbinger of things to come for the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT), which takes place in Las Vegas 10 days later. Major players that announced they would not have a floor presence at CES, in some cases announcing the decision less than two weeks before the doors opened, include Microsoft, Google, Intel, Meta (formerly Facebook), Twitter, GM, Lenovo, T-Mobile, Pinterest, Amazon and other giants in that industry.
“We’ve been closely monitoring the development of the Omicron variant, and have decided that this is the best choice for the health and safety of our teams,” a Dec. 23 Google statement explained.
CES health mandates are more stringent than SHOT. Both require masks to be worn, per state and local regulations, but CES will not issue a badge or grant floor access until an attendee provides proof of full vaccination. The organization also recommends boosters and carrying vaccination cards. SHOT Show has no similar requirement, although that could change by the time its doors open Jan. 18.
SIG Sauer, the only major gun company to pull out of the 2022 SHOT Show—so far—also cited health concerns when it made the October announcement. “Our number one priority throughout the pandemic has been, and will remain, our employees,” the SIG Sauer statement explained. “SIG Sauer has an extremely large presence at SHOT Show sending over 140 employees to the show and our pre-show Range Day event. Maintaining this presence, or even a scaled back minimum presence for 2022, represents a significant health risk to all 2,600 of our employees across our 13 U.S. locations, as individuals attending the show return to our facilities and risk continued exposure to our entire employee base.”
In 2019 more than 180,000 people from across the globe gathered for CES in Las Vegas. Verified attendance the next year was 171,268 from 164 countries. Health concerns and the international flavor forced management to conduct 2021’s event as a digital event.
The SHOT Show is the world’s largest annual firearm industry trade show and has grown every year since it began in 1979. Its numbers, however, pale by comparison to the computer and electronics event. In 2020, for example, SHOT attendance came in somewhere between 55,000 and 61,000 with roughly the same number of nations represented. This year’s venue, Caesar’s Forum and Venetian Expo, has 800,000 square feet of exhibit space, which provides a generous social distance space. The 2021 SHOT Show, like CES, was held digitally.
Despite the reduced crowds, last-minute CES withdrawals from major electronics firms—sacrificing deposits, travel expenses and booth investment—could impact SHOT Show attendance if the ominous predications of a post-holiday Omicron spike prove accurate. Shooting Illustrated will keep you posted on this developing story.
Photo courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.