Sure, there’s plenty on the news 24/7 to give most folks pause, but in the world of cars, life goes on, usually happily. That’s been affirmed by new market research released this week by SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, which represents the North American automotive aftermarket industry, which totals close to $48 billion annually. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a regular author at PRI Magazine, which covers the motorsport element of SEMA, dealing with hardcore parts for racers. According to SEMA’s Spring 2022 assessment of the industry, driven in part by members’ expectations, 75 percent of aftermarket manufacturers, 68 percent of parts distributors and 53 percent of retailers at the boots-on-the-ground level say that their business prospects have improved markedly since the pandemic. SEMA tracks this kind of stuff very closely and its numbers are reliable.
All that said, SEMA members still pointed to ongoing concerns over lingering pandemic-related supply shortages, continuing inflation, economic uncertainty and the war in Ukraine as issues going forward. The 70-page report, issued by SEMA’s internal researchers, still noted that members forecast continued sales growth at the retail level, consumer plans to continue spending and traveling on automotive-related events, and – no surprise here – an ongoing challenge filling vacant positions at their firms with qualified candidates. Regarding supplies, which have been especially critical for manufacturers of racing and specialty tires, most of the retailers surveyed believe the shortfalls won’t completely go away until sometime in 2023.