unemployment continues to hamper overall consumer spending, but a
recent analysis by The NPD Group, a leading market research company,
shows that in high unemployment markets there is a discrepancy between
front-of-store and hard parts auto aftermarket sales.
Market level sales data from NPD’s Aftermarket Industry Monitor, which
tracks point-of-sale data from more than 18,000 auto parts stores, was
analyzed based on the market’s unemployment rates. Markets were
classified as being well below, below, above, or well above the
national unemployment rates.
In addition to the not-too-surprising finding that markets above and
well above the national unemployment rate had lower overall sales than
other markets, NPD found hard parts sales in these markets fared
significantly better than front-of-store categories. Hard parts sales
in the highest unemployment markets even slightly outpaced the national
average growth rate.
"Economically challenged consumers in high unemployment markets may see
front-of-store categories as discretionary or something they can defer
purchasing," said David Portalatin, industry analyst for NPD’s
automotive aftermarket market research. "Whereas consumers who can’t
afford to replace their cars but need a car to search for work and for
basic transportation needs, see hard parts as a necessity to keep their
"In areas of high unemployment where consumer dollars are stretched
thin, it comes down to buying what is needed to get by," said
Portalatin. "Understanding each market’s dynamics and the consumers’
mindset, will help auto parts retailers better plan and serve their
For more information about the Aftermarket Industry Monitor, contact Andrew Beilenson at 866-444-1411, or [email protected].