In February, the SEMA Performance Parts and Demand Index (PADI) rose to 81 from January’s meager 54-point reading. This is still a drop from February 2007, when the Index was up to 97. Consumers are increasingly feeling the impact of economic forces this year, such as higher gas prices and bleak employment outlook. While the latter is less predictable, constant media attention on gas prices are making consumers aware that higher prices are likely here to stay.
Consumers seem to be responding to this by indicating plans to purchase custom parts and accessories for their large SUVs and pickups that they bought a few years ago when gas prices were less of an issue. While the number of pickup owners that told us that they plan to purchase custom parts and accessories over the next 90 days rose a modest 1%, the number of large-SUV owners jumped six percentage points.
And while car dealerships are still the top retail channel of choice among mainstream consumers planning to buy specialty equipment, independent parts stores (often referred to as jobbers) and performance specialty installation shops made considerable gains. As consumers are learning more about the specialty-equipment market, they seem to be growing their awareness of the place-of-purchase options available to them.
For more from the SEMA Research & Information Center, visit www.sema.org/research.