Even though 2020 has altered the vehicle landscape for many, the specialty equipment market has shown great growth over the last 10 years with industry retail sales climbing nearly 4 percent to a new high of $46.2 billion in 2019, according to the new 2020 SEMA Market Report, which provides a comprehensive review of the automotive specialty equipment market, market sizing by vehicle segment, purchasing channels, and trends to help SEMA member companies make better business decisions.
SEMA estimates that with the impact of COVID-19, industry retail sales will likely be down 12 percent in 2020. 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. By Q4 of 2020, nearly 50 percent of industry businesses expect their sales to be the same as or even better than 2019.
“While this year has presented its challenges, the 2020 SEMA Market Report can help our member companies identify the key areas of interest for consumers and prepare for the growth that we expect in 2021,” said SEMA Director of Market Research Gavin Knapp. “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.”
In-store purchases accounted for the largest share of 2019 retail sales, representing almost 60 percent of the total. 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. 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 percent went directly to manufacturers’ own websites, and 37 percent sought advice or recommendations from friends or relatives.
Pickup upgrades are the largest sector of the specialty equipment industry, accounting for 31 percent of 2019 retail sales, 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.
SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association founded in 1963, represents the $46.2 billion specialty automotive industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles. Association resources include market research, legislative advocacy, training and product development support, as well as leading trade shows such as the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, NV, and the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show in Indianapolis, IN. For more information, visit www.sema.org, www.semashow.com, or www.performanceracing.com.
Photo credited to SEMA.org