SEMA Report Looks at Retail Sales Trends

July 8, 2020

Specialty aftermarket equipment retail sales will most likely be down 12% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, according to the new 2020 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Market Report.

“However, most economists think that the recession hit its lowest point in mid-April and companies within the specialty equipment industry are optimistic about sales moving forward,” according to SEMA officials. “By Q4 of 2020, nearly 50% of industry businesses expect their sales to be the same as or even better than 2019.”

“It’s still early to predict exactly how things will play out over the next couple years, but the positive news is that as the country re-emerges from the shutdown, we can expect that sales should rise back towards previous levels,” says Gavin Knapp, SEMA’s director of market research.

In-store purchases accounted for the largest share of 2019 retail sales, representing almost 60% of the total, according to SEMA’s report. “It is highly likely that online purchases will spike in 2020 due to COVID-19, but SEMA expects that many consumers will return to in-store shopping once restrictions are loosened.”

SEMA also says that “word-of-mouth and the web were important sources of ideas and information for consumers researching potential upgrades. Forty-four percent of consumers used search engines or review websites, 40% went directly to manufacturers’ own websites and 37% sought advice or recommendations from friends or relatives.”

Pickup truck upgrades have emerged as the largest sector of the specialty equipment industry, accounting for 31% of 2019 retail sales, according to SEMA research, “although mid-range cars, CUVs and SUVs, including the Jeep Wrangler, are also major components of the market.

“Fifty-nine percent of specialty-automotive consumers are under the age of 40 and younger drivers are more likely than older drivers to buy performance parts or accessories and make heavier modifications to their vehicles.”