The specialty-equipment industry took a hit in 2008 as consumers scaled back their purchases—new vehicle sales dropped 35% during the third quarter alone, for example—but depending on the type of consumers analyzed, spending varied significantly. “Mainstream” consumers, those less likely to view automotive customization as a hobby or lifestyle, were often targeted by specialty-equipment companies as they began marketing to the general vehicle-buying public. As consumers, in general, cut back on new-vehicle purchases and subsequent personalization of newly acquired vehicles, much of the specialty-equipment industry suffered.
The third quarter of 2008 took quite a beating—gas prices skyrocketed, vehicle sales dropped, consumer confidence tanked—but depending on what type of consumers being considered, things may not be as bad as one may think. Sure, consumers, in general, felt less optimistic during the summer months, but those that are considered “enthusiasts” may have helped keep the industry moving forward. Throughout the pages of this report, several sets of statistics from surveys and industry sources will help to provide an overall snapshot of Q3 2008.
The 2008 Q2 Quarterly Update offers readers an update to some regularly occurring items: new-vehicle sales and forecasts as well as the SEMA Performance Parts and Accessories Demand Index (PADI). However, the third section of this report offers something new: insight into how SEMA members rate business trends, which serves to benchmark the activities of the current specialty-equipment industry.