NPD Group's Automotive Aftermarket Summer Forecast
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NPD Group Forecasts Robust Summer Travel for Consumers

Executive Director David Portalatin says that with March miles driven in the U.S. exceeding the previous high point of November 2007, the automotive aftermarket has recovered all miles lost during the recession.

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According to David Portalatin, executive director and automotive aftermarket industry analyst for NPD Group, the change of seasons has brought a significant turning point for the automotive aftermarket. Below he shares his thoughts on what the summer will bring for the automotive aftermarket in 2015.

Spring brought with it a rebirth for the automotive aftermarket. With March miles driven in the U.S. exceeding the previous high point of November 2007, we have recovered all miles lost during the recession. Through May, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that consumers purchased 3 percent more gallons of fuel while spending $52 billion less at the pump for those gallons.

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If gas prices remain significantly below last year’s prices, we can expect that summer travel will be more robust. In anticipation, consumers will need to prep their vehicles for summer trips, presenting an assortment of opportunities for the automotive aftermarket:

  • Consumers are getting ready to hitch up a boat, camper or Jet Ski to hit the road and have some summer fun. The towing and hitch category grew 6 percent in dollar sales through April, while tarp sales (+17 percent) and towing mirrors (+9 percent) also saw dollar sales increases during this time.
  • More driving means more time spent in the car. Sales of interior accessories including floor mats, interior mirrors and ashtrays were up in April. Large growth came from the phone and electronics-related categories, suggesting the importance of keeping these items secure, organized and powered up during car rides. Auxiliary power adapters and phone adapters were up 24 percent in dollars, while phone and radar holders, mounts and clips saw a 73 percent lift in dollar sales.
  • In line with the aging vehicle trend, automotive lighting grew 11 percent in dollars, and battery sales increased by 4 percent.

Many of these categories have struggled since the recession, but today they are doing quite well. This revival is giving new life to the automotive aftermarket, just in time for summer.

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