While dealers remain concerned over the economy, preliminary sales numbers from our panel of retail dealers indicate some positive movement. After another slide in August, tire and service sales showed some strength in September.
The cost of fuel was the biggest concern in August, and more dealers mentioned the impact of tire price increases, as well. After some hopeful signs in early July, tire unit and service sales continued to slide in August, down an average of almost 3%, but ranging as high as 10% for some dealers.
The Tire Review Dealer Panel reported weak final August numbers in retail passenger tire unit sales vs. the same month last year. However, preliminary numbers for September look somewhat better compared to the year prior. Total unit sales remain down from September 2007, with broadline sales equal to 2007 levels, and HP and LT/SUV unit sales off by 2.5%.
After running below 2007 levels in June, July and August, service sales rebounded in September. Both undercar and underhood sales are now above last year’s levels. Preliminary September figures are running about 1% ahead of 2007.
Dealer Panel member comments include:
• Nobody is spending and we understand, because we’re all doing the same thing.
• Demand is down. If things don’t change in the next year, I’ll have to close down.
• Gas prices are stabilizing now, so it would be nice if the tire prices would roll back, too.
• Price increases have stuck, but the fill rate is better. There aren’t as many deals, deals, deals to get rid of the inventory.
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