Where are you going, what have you learned?

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Where are you going, what have you learned?

By Michael Chung, director, Market Intelligence, Auto Care Association

Headshot_Michael Chung_Auto Care Association
Michael Chung

What’s the status quo? We’re back to normal, right? Schools have been in-person all year and families have resumed vacation travel. Since AAPEX 2021, I’ve attended two conferences and worked in the office about half the time. Like many of you, I’m still logging in to plenty of Teams/Zoom calls along with a healthy dose of webinars. 

Fresh from an industry event

Earlier this month, we held our Spring Leadership Days conference in Orlando. Two sessions stand out. As the stock markets were taking a beating, the “R” word came up – are we heading toward a recession? It was encouraging to hear leading experts address these issues: 

  • While inflation has been high throughout the past year, it is expected to recede in the coming year
  • Recent increases in food and energy costs are expected to fade in the near term
  • Supply and inventory are anticipated to catch up to demand
  • Unemployment is at its lowest level since the 1950s – filling open positions will take some time, especially with so many impending retirements 
  • Stagflation is not expected – despite inflation, low- and middle-income households are expected to weather the storm as wages have increased and have savings to draw from

And you could see heads nodding throughout the auditorium – my core customers will still be there … yup, hiring will be challenging for a while.

Another thought-provoking presentation addressed driving behavior trends. Through the power of data collection and analytics, we drank from the firehose: 

  • Monthly vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and hard braking events
  • VMT and driver growth rates for urban, suburban, and rural areas
  • Driving distance by time of day
  • Relationship between gas prices and VMT at the county level
  • When surges in residential VMT occurred for a county 

Same thing – the gears were turning – that town will see more demand for brake parts … that area is going through tires faster this year.

Why the buzz?

Simply put, events are back.  Last year’s AAPEX was an overdue industry homecoming, with the SEMA Show just across the way. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held in Vegas a few months later. Auto Care Association held Fall Leadership Days in September and Spring Leadership Days in May, while the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) held its Vision conference in April. 

As we grapple with economic, labor, production, supply chain, freight, global health and other uncertainties, we keep providing the industry with insightful data and analysis to guide you. AAPEX is an opportunity to hear first-hand new developments on emerging topics. 

Last year we created reports on e-commerce and electric vehicle adoption to inform you of recent trends and long-term forecasts to guide your planning. We are collaborating on these topics again and look forward to sharing our latest research with you there. 

Moreover, we continue to watch industry performance, VMT/driving patterns, and the broader economy to inform our industry through our various publications, webinars, and articles on trends to guide your strategic planning and operations. 

So be ready to soak it in at AAPEX – live action commentary on the most pressing issues so you can participate in the discussion and apply it to your own company. See you in Vegas! 

May 31, 2022