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Jobber numbers suffer steady decline despite overall growth of parts stores

Covid strengthens retail auto parts stores’ DIY market; retail has also “greatly expanded” its product share in DIFM market at jobbers’ expense over last 10 years

Fort Wayne, Ind.—The automotive parts store population is increasing, but the mix of jobbers and retail auto parts stores is changing much faster, according to Lang Marketing’s latest report released on Wednesday.

“The number of automotive parts stores climbed by approximately 600 outlets between 2014 and 2019. However, this growth does not reflect the dramatic change in the mix of jobbers and retail auto parts stores,” the report stated, as part of Lang’s just-released 2021 Lang Aftermarket Annual, a 10-year analysis of the changing populations of jobbers and retail auto parts stores and the overall growth of automotive parts stores across the U.S.

A summary of the analysis’ findings are as follows:

More automotive parts stores

The number of automotive parts stores in the U.S. (jobbers and retail auto parts stores) climbed from approximately 34,350 at mid-year 2000 to more than 36,400 by 2014.

Automotive parts store growth continued during the next five years with more than 575 outlets added, which brought their population to nearly 37,000 at mid-year 2019.

Sinking jobber population

Despite the increasing number of automotive parts stores across the U.S., the jobber population declined each year from 2009 to 2019.

At mid-year 2009, there were approximately 17,500 jobber stores nationwide, with their population slipping to just more than 17,050 by 2015.

Since then, the number of jobber stores has continued to decline, but at a lower 0.3 percent average annual pace.

Retail auto parts store growth

The populations of retail auto parts stores and jobbers have moved in opposite directions. From just nearly 17,900 outlets in 2009, retail auto parts store locations topped 19,400 by 2015.

The growth of retail auto parts stores has continued, with their number climbing at a 0.7 percent annual pace between 2015 and 2019.

Shifting outlet mix of automotive parts stores

The shares of automotive parts stores represented by jobbers and retail auto parts stores changed significantly over the past 10 years.

Between 2009 and 2019, jobbers suffered a steady share decline, while the retail auto parts store population share surged.

Jobbers fell from 49 percent of automotive parts stores nationwide in 2009 to a 46 percent share by 2019.

In contrast, retail auto parts stores represented a majority, 54 percent, of automotive parts stores at mid-year 2019, stronger than their 51 percent share 10 years earlier.

Automotive parts store growth rate

The number of automotive parts stores nationwide increased at a 0.4 percent average annual pace between 2009 and 2019.

The retail auto parts store population surged at a much faster 1.2 percent annual pace, as the number of jobber stores fell an average annual 0.4 percent rate during those 10 years.

Retail auto parts store sales share

The changing automotive parts store mix reflects the growing parts share of retail auto parts stores in both the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and the commercial (wholesale) Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) markets.

Retail auto parts stores increased their DIY product share more than one-tenth between 2009 and 2019, taking much of that volume from jobbers and discount stores/mass merchandisers.

In the DIFM market, retail auto parts stores have greatly expanded their product share over the past 10 years. A large part of that growth has been at the expense of competing outlets, especially jobbers.

2020 developments

The increase of DIY auto repair resulting from the onslaught of Covid-19 has strengthened the market position of retail auto parts stores, which hold a dominant share of the DIY market. This will likely accelerate the expansion of retail auto parts stores in the mix of automotive parts stores.

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