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Light Truck Tires post 3.5% U.S. Unit Growth in 2018, GfK POS Data Reports

While the U.S. tire retail market still faces challenges, GfK point-of-sale (POS) data from outlets nationwide point to important opportunities in a few key segments of the marketplace.

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While the U.S. tire retail market still faces challenges, GfK point-of-sale (POS) data from outlets nationwide point to important opportunities in a few key segments of the marketplace.

Comparing full-year data from 2018 and 2017, GfK found that light truck (LT) tires grew in units by 3.5% year over year, with LT rims of over 20 in. posting the highest jumps in both sales dollars (17%) and units (20%). This follows a tumultuous 2017 for LT tires, which declined 3.1% in units.

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The LT segment also posted significant upticks in units and dollars for 17-, 18-, and 20-in. rims – but 16-in. models dropped off precipitously, GfK data found.

This echoes a broader industry trend toward purchases of larger rim sizes; among passenger and SUV (collectively known as “P-Metric”) tires, models of 19, 20, and over 20 in. registered unit and dollar growth, while rims of 16, 15, and under 15 in. declined.

In addition, GfK’s data shows that some tires rated for higher speeds – and commanding higher prices – are also enjoying unexpected unit surges. In the light truck segment, for example, “S”-rated tires – which can accommodate speeds of 120 mph and up – grew 5% in unit sales year-over-year. Overall, high-rated “Q,” “R,” and “S” tires accounted for over 95% of LT unit sales in 2018.

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Representing nearly 35,000 points of sale nationwide, GfK’s POS tire panel provides data to inform dealer and manufacturer decisions and allows manufacturers and retailers to understand country-wide trends, competitor activities, sale prices and brand market share.

In the U.S. tire market generally, unit sales declined by 2.1% year-over-year, while prices increased 1.5%. Unit sales among P-Metric tires, which account for 84% of the tire specialty marketplace, were down 3.1%, according to the data.

“At a time when growth can be hard to come by, it is essential that tire manufacturers and dealers have the data they need to make smarter decisions,” said Neil Portnoy, managing director of GfK’s POS tracking (tires) team in the U.S. “Identifying the opportunities that matter has never been more important – whether that means focusing on light truck models or making sure your prices and promotions are giving you an edge over competitors. The GfK data set provides a powerful advantage at a time when production and stocking decisions need to be made more quickly than ever.”

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