It was a record-breaking year for specialty equipment sales in 2020 — and all signs are pointing to an even better 2021 and beyond.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) reported that, despite COVID-19 creating a roller coaster of a year for many sectors, retail specialty equipment sales in the United States were up 3.7% in 2020 compared to the previous year. That put the industry total at US$47.89 billion for the year, according to the 2021 SEMA Market Report.
The report provided an overview of the state of the specialty equipment market and examined how consumers and businesses adapted to the pandemic, along with how much was spent — and where — on specialty automotive parts and accessories in 2020.
Automotive service and repair were considered essential businesses throughout the pandemic and avoided being part of lockdowns across the continent, including in Canada.
“Even amid the disruption of the pandemic, many of the industry’s companies reported record sales in 2020 as enthusiasts spent money on their cars instead of other pursuits that were unavailable during the lockdown,” SEMA observed in an announcement. “Forty-eight percent of enthusiasts did more online shopping for parts in 2020 than in 2019, and 40% of enthusiasts spent more time working on their vehicle.”
The report noted the following highlights:
Forty per cent of enthusiast consumers modify their vehicle to stand out vs. 28 per cent of non-enthusiasts.
Sixty per cent of specialty equipment consumers are under the age of 40. Young drivers continue to be an important and engaged part of the industry and often buy more involved performance parts or accessories and make heavier modifications to their vehicles.
Forty-three per cent of “accessorizers” looked to search engines and review websites when looking for parts information, while 41 per cent look to manufacturer’s websites and 36 per cent to retail websites.
Just over 50% of dollars spent in 2020 went through online channels. However, even with social-distancing measures in place, many consumers still preferred brick-and-mortar retailers for their aftermarket parts purchases.
Pickups remained the biggest vehicle segment for the specialty equipment market, accounting for 28 per cent of all dollars spent, followed by crossover vehicles at 16 per cent
SEMA is forecasting that sales will continue to climb for a number of years. For 2021, it expects sales to hit US$49.38 billion (an increase of 3.1 per cent) and reaching as high as US$55 billion in 2024 — an increase of 11.7% from 2020.