The (SEMA) Show Must Go On
Spending the last three months chronicling every every single cancellation related to the coronavirus hasn’t been any more enjoyable than reading about it. And, while we apologize for putting you though that, there honestly isn’t much else to report on when every manufacturer on the planet suddenly enters into a panicked lockdown. Thankfully, we seem to be nearing the end of being forced to issue updates on the latest cancelled soirée you had your hopes set on attending.
Despite automotive trade shows being canceled in Detroit, Geneva, and Paris this year, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show scheduled for November is still on. We may also see the New York Auto Show, which was rescheduled, take place in August — assuming the Javits Center remains underutilized for COVID patients through the summer and NYC doesn’t see a sudden spike in infection rates. However, SEMA is the first major event that seems like a sure thing in the automotive realm and, boy, are we glad to hear it.
“While many near-term industry events have been postponed or canceled, the industry’s manufacturers are currently going full-bore with plans and preparations for both the 2020 SEMA Show in November and the PRI Show in December,” SEMA president Chris Kersting said late last week.
“I’m not surprised. Our industry has historically demonstrated fortitude and resolve in the face of adversity. The SEMA Show was the first major business gathering in the U.S. following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the heart of the Great Recession in 2009 and 2010, SEMA exhibitors and buyers again turned out in force, laying the groundwork for the recovery that followed. Currently, we see that the vast majority of member companies are planning to exhibit this year, and some 2,000 plus are expected to take part in this month’s booth selection process. They are determined that the SEMA Show will help launch the industry into a successful 2021.”
Kersting said there will be conditions, however. SEMA plans on making a few changes, noting that the whole of the automotive industry will need to “find ways to do business while providing for the health, safety and well-being of all involved.” SEMA also launched a resource website to help the aftermarket community apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and small business loans or parse through updated health guidelines for businesses. Additionally, Kersting said the event would provide refundable deposits and deferred deadlines for vendors to make participation easier to commit to (and back out of).
None of that guarantees SEMA for 2020, but we at least now know the organization is pushing through with plans to actually have the event, which is the most we’ve been able to say about any major trade show since the year began. Due to its Las Vegas locale, there’s reason to hold out hope. Despite Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) suggesting extending lockdowns through at least June, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has said the measures are effectively hurting the city’s ability to exist — calling them totally insane.
“This shutdown has become one of total insanity in my opinion, for there is no backup of data as to why we are shut down from the start,” Goodman said during a City Council meeting from mid-April. A self-described independent, she has criticized any whiff of coronavirus-related partisanship and said that all she cares about it is solving the economic crisis while addressing health risks.
“We cannot keep our heads in the sand and think it’s going to go away,” she said in the same meeting. “We’re adults with brains who can know what to do to wash our hands, to take all precautions not to spread this disease.”
Goodman has since offered to make Las Vegas a control group. While framed as irresponsible by some, many argued that the city’s heavy reliance on tourism makes it the best candidate for the job — as it has the most to lose under lockdown mandates. Meanwhile, detractors claim it’d be ground zero for a viral resurgence, helping spread the illness across the country as crowds of people travel in and out of the area on vacation.
We’re of the mind that winds have already begun shifting. Even though the automotive industry doesn’t like to issue messaging that might upset large swaths of the country (unless it pertains to layoffs), it’s preparing to resume operation as closely to normal as can be managed. Increasingly large protests are taking place in which U.S. citizens are demanding the right to return to work. Even though the coronavirus will still be around come November, we don’t think the current ultra-protective mindset will be joining — unless a major incident occurs between then and now.
Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.
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