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Vehicle Maintainer Behavior, Sentiment is Changing Week to Week

Date: September 8, 2020
Source: IMR Inc.
In July, IMR Inc. began weekly tracking of vehicle maintainer service and repair behavior as well as attitudes and sentiments on various topics to develop leading indicators for the market. Since mid-July, when the tracking study began, DIY activity has increased noticeably on a weekly basis (up 13.2%) with the southern region typically outpacing other regions of the country. In addition, first time DIYers, those who have indicated they’ve never done any work on their vehicle themselves, has steadily increased as well averaging 21.3% over the past month.

Channel share has shifted some as well. New car dealer share of service and repairs has fluctuated between 15% and 18%, benefiting aftermarket service outlets. Conversely, e-tailers such as Amazon, eBay, Rock Auto, etc., have garnered as much as 17% of DIY purchases over the past month.

COVID and Vehicle Maintainer Attitudes and Sentiment

Amongst many attitudes tracked weekly, the consumer’s perception of their weekly driving habits, their outlook on the overall Coronavirus situation in the U.S., and their fear of being exposed to the virus can give us indicators on what we might be able to expect in the coming weeks.

For the first time, vehicle maintainer’s outlook on the Coronavirus situation in the U.S. has become more positive than negative. In other words, those respondents who indicated that the situation was getting better (36.2%) edged out those that thought it was getting worse (34.9%). While the gap is small, only two weeks ago, those that thought it was getting worse (46.7%) outpaced those who thought it was getting better (27.2%), a 19.5% difference.

While the perception of the Coronavirus situation in the U.S. amongst vehicle maintainers is getting more positive, their fear of contracting the virus has not changed much. Around 77% say that they are either very worried or somewhat worried about contracting the virus.
Those fears manifest themselves into the auto repair world.

Fear of traveling on public transportation and using ride share services remain high, week over week, as does shopping in store at either parts retailers or discount/mass merchants. In addition, 31.2% of vehicle maintainers are either extremely worried or somewhat worried about being exposed to COVID-19 when taking their vehicle to a repair shop for services.
The Weeks Ahead

Each week, data points are added to the various metrics being tracked such as vehicles serviced and repaired, purchase metrics for specific parts and services, delayed maintenance, various attitudes, sentiments, and other parts/service behaviors. The IMR Weekly Vehicle Maintenance Monitor continually shows emerging trends in the automotive parts and service marketplace. Consumer behavior has changed due to the pandemic but what we know now or perceive now about these behaviors may change rapidly, week to week.
These questions still remain:
  • Which of these consumer behaviors is ‘sticky’? 
  • Which behaviors will change as the local economies ease restrictions or increase them? 
  • More importantly, am I prepared for these market changes?
 Want to Know More?

If you want to learn more about IMR’s Weekly Vehicle Maintenance Monitor, click here.
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