A Radically Different Aftermarket

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

By Nathan Shipley, automotive industry analyst, The NPD Group

My first business trip in more than 18 months will take place in a few weeks as I fly to Las Vegas for the 2021 AAPEX show. I have attended this show more times than I can count — and the 2019 show seems like it was a decade ago. I’m sure this year’s show will be different than it was in the past, but I am personally excited to engage again face to face with industry colleagues and clients.  

When the pandemic began, many of us were concerned that the underlying health of our industry would suffer, as drivers parked their vehicles and stayed home. The last 18 months proved to be a time when consumer behavior changed radically: how and where we work, what we do for leisure, how we travel or vacation (and more importantly, how we get to that destination). So much has changed that has directly affected this industry.  

At AAPEX each year, we present our “Aftermarket Outlook” presentation. It gives the industry a high-level look at aftermarket and retail trends, along with our perspective on what you can expect in the coming year. Not to give too much away, but although the aftermarket is healthy and business is good, it’s a radically different industry than the one we were talking about at AAPEX just two years ago.

While preparing for our upcoming presentation, I kept thinking, “where do I even begin?” There is so much to discuss about this industry right now, including consumer behavior, chip shortages, inflation and sustained demand. The miles-driven metric is on par with 2019, but the “who, what, and where” of that consumption is different. Very different.  

Oh, and did anyone mention supply chain challenges? Do you remember a few years ago, when import tariffs were all the rage? I can’t recall the last time that subject came up in conversation with a client. While tariffs are still out there, other things have become more important. Who cares about tariffs, if you can’t even get the product over here in the first place?

While it is easy to talk about these topics and their present-day effects, understanding what the future holds is more important. I am personally very bullish about our industry’s future. Although there will be challenges ahead, our forecast models paint a picture of an industry that is much stronger than it was prior to COVID-19. I will clue you in on the reason behind this optimism in Las Vegas during our “Aftermarket Outlook 2022” presentation, Tuesday, Nov. 2, from 11 a.m. – noon, (PDT). It is just a few short weeks away … and I hope to see you there!

Register now to attend AAPEX 2021!