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Positive results for auto aftermarket rooted in new consumer needs

Continued high-income household spending compensates for rising prices and reduced discretionary spending

Chicago—The U.S. automotive aftermarket industry ended 2022 with sales revenue 7% higher than the previous year, despite a 7% decline in unit demand. Overall, average retail aftermarket prices were 13% higher than they were in 2021 and 32% higher than in 2019 , according to Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group.

“The aftermarket industry has been successful in meeting the evolving needs of a changing consumer base,” said Nathan Shipley, automotive industry analyst for Circana. “Inflation is putting a squeeze on disposable income, particularly for lower income consumers, but the higher income households that contributed to growth through much of the pandemic have remained engaged.”

Industry growth came from categories related to automotive maintenance and repair, the fluids necessary for regular use and replacement tires. The focus on this kind of aftermarket spending was consistent through much of the year, with marginal impact on overall year-end performance from weather-related demand Circana tracked in the final weeks of 2022. Appearance and accessory categories were the only product group with negative sales revenue performance for the year (down 4%) due to a 14% decline in unit demand for these more discretionary purchases.

“Building on an already strong foundation, pandemic-driven factors, like suppressed new car availability, skyrocketing used car prices and other positive macro trends around personal vehicle ownership are just a few of the reasons the aftermarket has a firm foundation as 2023 gets underway,” Shipley said. “While the drop in consumption among lower-income households — the aftermarket’s primary consumer — in the back half of last year is not something to be ignored, the industry remains strong with the potential for more opportunity on the horizon.”

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