Preliminary February sales numbers from our nationwide panel of retail tire dealers indicate a bottoming out in sales in terms of both tire units and service dollars vs. February 2008. Perhaps consumers can’t continue to postpone purchases any longer, or it is just a brief bump up.
Tire Review’s exclusive dealer panel reported extremely weak final January numbers in retail passenger tire unit sales, off 5% compared to the same month last year. Preliminary numbers for February show a possible turnaround in retail demand. February units are still off nearly 3% vs. 2008, but are essentially flat with January 2009 results. In the individual tire segments, all three product areas are being hard hit, with the high performance segment showing the steepest decline.
February 2009 marks the 10th consecutive month in which both undercar and underhood sales were consistently down compared to the same month in the year prior. However, preliminary February sales results were off only 2% vs. February 2008, better results than January 2009, which was down a solid 5% year-over-year.
Dealer panel member comments continue to reflect concerns over the economy. Here is a sampling of what they had to say:
• The economy is bad
• We need six months of no taxes
• We need to get everything up and running again
• Everything depends on what the new president does
• I’m just wondering if there will be any price changes in the next quarter
• I think things are starting to pick up a bit
• I’m optimistic that things will change
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