Another Record Year for Specialty Equipment Sales

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The specialty equipment market saw a further increase in sales en route to another record year.

Sales of specialty equipment parts in 2021 reached US$50.9 billion, up more than 6% (US$47.9 billion) from a year earlier, according to the Specialty Equipment Market. Association.

In his SEMA Market Report 2022, the group believes that growth has been driven by strong consumer interest in working on their car or truck. It found that more than four in five specialty equipment consumers said they spent the same, if not more, time working on their personal vehicle than in 2020.

As in-person shopping restrictions eased throughout 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, consumers were more comfortable shopping in-store for equipment parts specialized. SEMA saw a roughly 50-50 split between purchases made online and in-store. In 2020, approximately 54% of purchases were made online. Before the pandemic, 45% of purchases were made online. The association expects more normalization of the numbers this year.

Modifications to pickup trucks continue to be a driving force for the industry. In the report, Gavin Knapp, director of market research at SEMA, noted that one-third of parts and accessory sales were for pickup mods.

“The transition to light-duty truck sales continues in the new-vehicle market, and these pickups and utility vehicles are excellent accessory platforms,” he said.

That said, performance modifications are also a big market driver as people look to add more horsepower to their vehicles.

“Most people can’t afford a Lamborghini or even a Hellcat. Yet this industry helps anyone propel their own car toward these lofty goals,” Knapp said.

“Even amidst all the disruption, people found the opportunity to do something fun with their cars. That’s what makes this industry so cool.

What this shows is that people “love their cars” and that there is still a strong car culture, he added in the report. People love to accessorize their cars.

“Enthusiasts have taken advantage of these strange times to do what they love: working on their cars and trucks,” Knapp said. “Even amidst all the disruption, people found the opportunity to do something fun with their cars. That’s what makes this industry so cool.

Of course, there are challenges to overcome. Most notably, the supply chain segment still poses headwinds as the issues are expected to continue through 2023 and could lead to lower sales going forward. And other factors are starting to creep in.

“Inflation has risen across the board as gasoline prices have soared and companies in our industry feel the need to raise prices amid rising costs,” Knapp reported. “Consumer confidence remained down as a pandemic, politics and supply issues weighed on their minds. Some economists see a downturn coming this year.

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