Industry Retailers Report In: How Do You Compare?

The SEMA financial benchmarking program has been launched and is providing data for the industry. The focus this week is on jobbers/retailers. Following are a few nuggets gleaned from the responses for the month of January 2009.

Nearly 26% of responding jobbers/retailers say that they expect business to be up for the next three months compared to last year. We’ve heard from of number of industry executives that the first half of last year was pretty good. If that’s true and expectations come true, the first quarter of 2009 may be reasonably good.

Moreover, signs of industry health make the current economy seem a distant past. Despite the gloom, some retailers are opening their doors and welcoming new customers. New SEMA member and Rhode Island retailer Competition Motorsports highlights how retailers are beating the odds.

Owner Scott Szumita addresses their goals: “My store targets any and all types of consumers looking to style or enhance the performance of their car, truck or SUV," he said. "Whether it's an older car they are looking to restore or a new vehicle that they want to add some personal touches to, we need to be diversified in this market.”

Having a flexible product line and offering new services to customers may be the solution to a rough economy.

Three-Month Forecast of Retail Sales Compared to 2008

Almost 66% of jobbers and retailers expect healthy months ahead and foresee positive growth or a steady hold of current business.

Interestingly, those expecting business to be down project an average decrease of 29.5%, while those forecasting an upturn project an average increase of 25.8%. Retailers/jobbers report that in January 2009 their return rate was 7.4%. They also tell us that they averaged 8.8 inventory turns in 2008.

Right now, more than ever, the industry needs new tools to survive the tough economy. That’s why SEMA has launched a new financial benchmarking program. The program is designed to accumulate data that you can use to see how your company is doing in comparison to others in the industry. Each month, information from responding companies will be aggregated and reports generated for the basic distribution categories of the industry.

The program asks a battery of financial questions that provide essential information for business management. Using aggregated data from similar companies, SEMA members will be able to benchmark their operations, answering questions such as:

  • What is the distribution of sales by jobbers/retailers?
  • Does my company invest more in marketing than others in my category?
  • How are my inventory turns doing compared to similar operations?
  • Is the amount of product returns my company is having out of whack right now?

The data will provide benchmarking information for just about all aspects of a company’s financial operation. The added benefit is that over time, trend data will emerge, again providing a yardstick by which to compare your company’s operation.

To ease concerns that some company executives may have about SEMA seeing their individual company data, SEMA has contracted with an outside vendor, Hedges & Company, to collect and aggregate the information each month. They willingly enter into legally binding non-disclosure agreements with any and all who wish them, and report only aggregated data to SEMA and program participants. — SEMA Research & Information Center