Restoration Market Holding Strong

 Restoration Market Update
 As the overall market retracted in 2008, the Restoration market held its own and picked up market share.
  1967 Camaro R/S Z28 at 2008 SEMA Show
 This 1967 Chevrolet Camaro R/S Z28 featured original paint and only 44,000 odometer clicks when it was displayed in the Camaro tribute section at the 2008 SEMA Show.

In 2008, the restoration market held its ground and fended off economic troubles. With the overall market shuddering in the wake of myriad disasters, enthusiasts looking to restore their automotive passion and collector cars came through decidedly.

Despite a small dip in retail sales, the restoration marketplace survived 2008 with $1.45 billion in retail sales, just 3% off the previous year—not bad considering how other parts of the industry ended the year. One of the many reasons for this stability is the types of consumers who participate in the restoration hobby.

Other segments, namely the light-truck market, depend heavily on new customers and, to a great extent, non-endemic customers. Being fickle and uninvested in the hobby lends them to ditching the market quickly. Restoration and collector vehicle consumers are less capricious and have more market loyalty.

For these reasons the restoration market picked up market share in comparison to the rest of the industry. Some segments receded while the restoration market remained fairly flat.

“Call volume is down from 12 months ago, but the quality jobs are still coming," says Jim Barber, owner of Classic Automotive Restoration Specialists and member of SEMA’s Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) council. "We have 'ate' into our backlog to a certain degree.”

Times are certainly tough, but the opportunities are still out there and companies can take the crisis to realign with their audience.

“The slow down has given my staff time to focus on cost-saving measures and better customer communication," Barber adds.

Calling old customers, reaching out to new ones and reestablishing a strong customer service ethic will build sales and customer loyalty, something beneficial when economic conditions force people to make difficult financial decisions.

Look for an in-depth report on the restoration market in an upcoming issue of SEMA News magazine. —SEMA Research & Information Center