The year 2008 came to a close with a resounding thud, as retail tire unit and vehicle service sales across the U.S. continued to plummet. Overall, tire and service sales have shown consistent year-over-year drops since April 2008.
Preliminary data from the Tire Review Dealer Panel showed December tire unit sales off 1.3% and service sales down 1.5% vs. the same month last year. December’s results, though, were slightly better than November sales.
December’s preliminary broadline tire sales showed a 2.2% drop, HP/UHP unit sales were down 1.3%, and LT/SUV tire sales fell 1.7% for the month.
The Dealer Panel reported weak final November numbers in retail passenger tire units, off 2.1% vs. November 2007. Broadline units were off 1.8% for the month, while HP/UHP sales were down 2.7% and LT/SUV off 2.5%.
December marked seven straight months where undercar and underhood sales were both consistently down from last year’s levels. Preliminary December numbers do show a slight up-tick in the trend, but are still off 1% to 1.5% from 2007.
Dealer Panel member comments continue to reflect concerns over the economy. Here is a sampling of what they had to say:
• The current trend is that sales are up. I hope that means we are turning the corner. People maybe aren’t able to buy new yet, but maybe they can start fixing things now that there is a little improvement.
• I hope things pick up. The economy is very slow.
• We don’t see the economy crunch where we are located.
• With the auto business so far down already, maybe next year will be better.
• Bring on the change!
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