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Aftermarket Effects of the COVID-19 Recession

Date: October 7, 2020
Source: Philip Atkins, AASA Director, Strategic Research and Planning
Yes, it’s happened. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has sparked another U.S. recession and a slump in the U.S. automotive aftermarket. Stay-at-home orders have restricted car travel, hurt employment, and ultimately reduced the need and ability to pay for automotive maintenance and repair. 

The decreases in miles traveled during March and April were unprecedented.

The result is that we are calling for our market’s biggest drop ever, an estimated 8.8% decrease between 2019 and 2020. However, we are forecasting that 2021 will bounce back strongly with an increase of 12% over 2020 (see graph below).

So, as has been true through previous recessions, the aftermarket will resume its path toward solid growth and perform better than many manufacturing industries, as shown in the graph below.

The automotive aftermarket’s ability to recover is due in large part to the solid foundation it is built on. In the remainder of 2020 and looking past 2020, the aftermarket will benefit from:
  • The car parc, with a rate of increase that will slow slightly but then resume its inexorable climb.

  • The increase in the number of used cars and the increase in the average age of vehicles, as households refrain from buying new cars in favor of maintaining and repairing the cars they have. In fact, the average age of cars on the road will jump higher in 2020 than originally forecast.

  • And the recovery in miles traveled will begin in Q1 2021 as workers return to the office and households favor driving themselves instead of using public transportation.

In conclusion, after a sharp setback, the automotive aftermarket will resume growing with the aid of the strong fundamentals – VIO, average age, and miles traveled.

Although some fundamentals will soften or decrease during the pandemic, they will soon resume their upward path and aid market growth again. By 2023, the market is projected to increase $60 billion to $341 billion from its 2020 level of $281 billion.

Members may check out the AASA 2020 Aftermarket Size & Forecast Report for more data and insights to support your organization’s medium- and long-term planning.
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