Note: this article was originally written in December 2011, for an updated forecast, click here for a more current article.
2011 has been a strong year for the performance & accessory and replacement parts market. Auto parts sales are up and there are several positive year-end economic indicators. The auto parts industry is poised to come into 2012 with momentum.
We are projecting retail sales of auto parts to have a 4.5% increase over 2010 (including replacement parts, performance parts & accessories, tires and wheels). The graph shown here shows two consecutive years of growth, a far improvement over 2009.
(Readers of this blog know retail sales of auto parts went into negative territory in June, 2009, the same month the Great Recession officially ended. A bad year for the auto parts industry.)
There’s other good news, too. Hedges & Company released the October SEMA Financial Benchmarking reports, December 13, to program participants, and those fortunate people will see evidence of a marked improvement in YTD sales for the industry as well as a rather optimistic view for the first months of 2012. If you have not yet participated in the SEMA Financial Benchmarking program we encourage you to do so. You’ll get three free reports in exchange for your participation, while the rest of the industry has to wait three months and pay $50 per report to see the data. It’s one of the best deals in the entire automotive aftermarket.
For some general merchandise retailers selling online, the 2011 holiday season is setting sales records. ChannelAdvisor has been reporting on same store sales and this report from December 8 shows online sales up significantly. Since Thanksgiving, stores on eBay are seeing a 17% increase; Amazon is seeing a 48% increase. ChannelAdvisor is forecasting a 20% increase in online sales for the holiday season.
It’s a bit early to say for sure, but to offset that good news, retail sales were a bit soft for November.
And finally, consumers’ outlook on the world made an improvement. This chart at right shows a jump in consumer confidence, as reported for the month of November. To put this in context with the automotive aftermarket, we plotted consumer confidence (red line) with the SEMA Consumer Demand Index (blue line) with both sets of data lined up with each other (consumer confidence is reported ahead of the SEMA data and we’re hoping the next month’s SEMA report follows the red line for November).
Check back and we’ll have updates on the state of the economy and of the automotive aftermarket, as we wrap up 2011.