U.S. Aftermarket Spending Forecast to Drop

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U.S. Aftermarket Spending Forecast to Drop
Boxes containing plastic bottles synthetic motor oil for sale in a store aisle. © calimedia

Automotive aftermarket selling prices in the United States – for motor oils and other products such as tires and windshield wipers – have risen 30% since 2019, according to NPD Group, but the market data provider predicts sales revenue will decline because of trends away from do-it-yourself auto care.

Announcing its 2023 forecast today, the firm said low-income consumers that perform their own maintenance are deferring purchases in order to stretch their dollars and that high earners are redirecting auto maintenance purchases to areas such as travel.

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Both “high and low-income consumers are shifting spending away from DIY auto care,” NPD said in a news release. “Without a boost to unit demand, industry sales revenue from retail front-room products like pain, spark plugs, tires, wipers, motor oil and other key aftermarket categories will continue to soften into 2023.”

NPD’s data is based on pricing and sales information provided by automotive aftermarket product retailers across the country. The firm defines low-earning households as those with annual incomes of less than $50,000 and high earners as those making more than $100,000.

The percent of light-duty vehicle oil changes performed by motorists has been falling in the U.S. for a number of years as increasing numbers of people opt for the convenience of paying mechanics or quick lube centers to do the job for them. On the other hand, consumer spending in the aftermarket was buoyed by the rising age of the U.S. car population.

But NPD said the trends against aftermarket spending gained additional force during the COVID-19 pandemic. On one hand, low-income households are feeling their budgets pinched, especially since inflation ramped up.

High-income households are pinched less but are choosing to direct time and dollars away from doing their own auto maintenance to experiential activities such as travel and extra-curricular activities for their children. “The automotive aftermarket is in a tug of war between the headwinds and tailwinds swirling in the consumer’s economic existence,” NPD Automotive Industry Analyst Nathan Shipley said. “Caught between mobility needs and elevated prices, consumers have moved from a mindset of getting what they need when they need it, to one of prioritized spending and making do.”

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