The trifecta of warmer weather, stay-at-home practices and social distancing measures has contributed to U.S. sales growth for a number of automotive aftermarket products tied to do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and those enabling recreational activities, according to The NPD Group.
Whether it is to wash a car or work on a project vehicle, dollar sales of DIY basics including light duty shop equipment, paints/coatings, tire care, vehicle wash and waxes/polishes collectively grew by 44% in April and May combined, compared to last year. Other related categories that saw growth include body repair (+44%), body fillers (+43%), paint restoration (+23%), and parts cleaners including brake cleaners and engine degreasers (+22%).
“Consumers may be driving less over the past few months, but with more time spent at home and limited places to go, the otherwise time-consuming tasks of working on their vehicles or pulling the cover off a project car in the garage have become leisurely ways for car owners to seek enjoyment,” said Nathan Shipley, NPD’s automotive analyst. “The aftermarket industry has long been worried that enthusiasm for DIY car repair and projects is waning, but today we have a huge opportunity to encourage and reinvigorate this behavior.”
With some states beginning to loosen their lockdowns and summer vacation on the horizon, other aftermarket categories are also experiencing growth, as consumers gear up for outdoor activities. In the past two months, sales grew for marine starting cycle batteries for boats (+33%), powersport batteries for jet-skis, ATVs, etc. (+49%), and motorcycle oil (+30%). Sales also rose for car/RV necessities including hitches (+42%), portable air compressors (+37%), and RV antifreeze/coolant (+31%). In addition, vehicles that sat idle likely needed items such as automotive batteries, which increased sales by 30%.
NPD data across industries points in the direction of outdoor recreation and local/regional U.S. travel being popular this year as air travel restrictions and social distancing measures continue. Heading into summer, sales have grown for U.S. travel books and road maps, camping equipment, outdoor toys, and summer seasonal apparel in addition to these areas of the aftermarket.
“The end of April brought a few, key realizations: COVID-19 will be keeping families closer to home for the unforeseeable future, travel plans will need to change, stimulus checks will be hitting consumers’ bank accounts, and fuel prices at the pump are at historical lows. These factors are likely providing an even greater incentive than usual for consumers to make recreational purchases that get them outside, and prep their cars and RVs for road trips,” said Shipley.
Source: The NPD Group/ U.S. Retail Tracking Service/ April-May 2020 vs. April-May 2019