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The Strength of the Aftermarket: By the Numbers

Recent data from the Auto Care Association and AASA showcase the size, scope and strength of the aftermarket today.

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Amy Antenora has been reporting on the automotive aftermarket since 2002.

Recent data from the Auto Care Association’s 2023 Factbook and the Joint Channel Forecast, presented annually in partnership with the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), showcase the size, scope and strength of the aftermarket today as well as projections for the coming year.

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JOINT CHANNEL FORECAST

For 21 years, the Auto Care Association and AASA have partnered with IHS (now S&P Global) to produce the annual Joint Channel Forecast, an estimate of market size and forecast created to support automotive aftermarket businesses in their strategic planning.

According to Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association, interest in the Joint Channel Forecast model grows every year. He reports that a recent member-only webinar hosted by the associations with S&P Global had more than 400 registrations to participate.

AASA President Paul McCarthy commented, “It is so important for our industry to have that single view of our market, to give that consistent credible message – especially to external audiences like investors in the media. … In the aftermarket, we really showed our resiliency during the pandemic, growing almost 25% over the past two years. While our sales growth may be coming back down to earth a little bit, we are working from a much higher foundation.”

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2022 Aftermarket Sales Expected to Reach $365 Billion

According to the Joint Channel Forecast Model presented by the Auto Care Association and AASA, the automotive aftermarket continued to demonstrate its market strength with higher-than-expected sales in 2021 in the wake of a slow economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Looking to this year, total U.S. light-duty automotive aftermarket sales are forecasted to increase 8.5% in 2022, totaling $356.5 billion.

An additional 5% growth is expected for 2023 and growth will average more than 3% in 2024, bringing the light-duty aftermarket to $401.5 billion by 2025, the two associations estimate. The compound average annual growth rate from 2019 to 2022 will be 5.7%, more than making up for losses seen in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to the report. 

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“Year after year, the auto care industry continues to show its strength and reliability,” said Hanvey. “In the midst of the highest gas prices on record and an inflation rate at a 40-year high, coupled with persistent supply chain disruptions and war in Eastern Europe, vehicle miles driven, vehicles in operation and consumer spending all increased in 2021 and are projected to increase into the coming years as well.” 

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS

Shane Norton, senior principal at S&P global, who has worked on the Joint Channel Forecast Model for all 21 years it has been produced, shared some highlights of the forecast report during the members-only webinar.

Norton confirmed that the light-duty U.S. aftermarket is expected to produce just under $360 billion in retail sales for 2022 and is expected to cross the $400 billion threshold by the end of 2025.

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“With the tremendous growth that the industry has seen in the past few years, as well as our outlook going forward, what we’ve found is that the aftermarket has weathered the pandemic very well. Driving patterns may have changed, but miles driven have so far rebounded. A significant amount of this increase that we’ve seen is certainly due to rising prices but most importantly, those rising prices did not dent demand,” Norton said. “Rising prices are universal, but we aren’t across the board seeing the kind of consistent level of steady growth that we’ve seen here. In the near-term, we do think that continued high prices will support the normal revenue growth that we focus on here. The question is how long consumers can maintain and support that.”

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Norton added that in terms of consumer trends, his research shows continued strained vehicle sales but that is starting to shift. “We do feel that the vehicle mix is turning more favorable to the aftermarket, which will provide for a tailwind going forward,” he noted. “One thing to note is that if high gas prices and continued inflation sustain themselves, it’s going to take its toll on miles driven.

“But again, that resilient demand boosted the U.S. light-duty aftermarket by 14.8% last year,” Norton added. “A year ago, we felt strongly that 2021 was going to be a really good year but we were thinking 11% double-digit growth. What we saw even surpassed that, and then last year looking forward, we were thinking over 5% growth for 2022, but again, due to increased prices, but also a consistent, steady demand, our 2022 forecast is now at 8.5%.”

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2023 Auto Care Factbook 

Like the Joint Channel Forecast, the Auto Care Association also recently released the 2023 Auto Care Factbook and the 2023 Auto Care Factbook & Lang Annual, which include critical insight for aftermarket businesses to make informed, data-based decisions for the future. This 32nd edition of the Auto Care Factbook report provides more new data than ever, including insight on how the auto care industry has fared following the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest consumer and industry trends, expanded international market performance and more. 

The automotive aftermarket is now expected to be a $514 billion industry by 2024, the report shows. The Factbook shares a variety of significant data points indicating the continued strength and growth of the aftermarket, such as employment numbers, VIO and average vehicle age. S&P Global recently reported that the average age of light vehicles in operation in the U.S. rose to 12.2 years this year, increasing by nearly two months over the prior year. This is the fifth straight year the average vehicle age in the United States has risen. This year’s average age marks another all-time high for the average age even as the vehicle fleet recovered, growing by 3.5 million units in the past year.

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“While the past year’s headlines have been a flurry of rising prices on everyday goods and services, inflation increases and supply chain shortages, the automotive aftermarket has been weathering the economic storm in the wake of the pandemic,” said Hanvey. “Our industry’s ability to remain adaptable and responsive to the quickly changing needs of consumers is what has resulted in steady market growth, year after year.”  AMN

For more details and to order the 2023 Auto Care Factbook, visit digital.autocare.org/2023factbook

AASA’s Aftermarket Size & Forecast Report is available at aftermarketsuppliers.org/resource.

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