Dealer comments and survey results this month continue to reflect increased concerns over the economy. Fuel prices are the biggest issue, with more than 60% of independent tire dealers specifically naming the price of gas as their top concern. With this growing concern in mind, tire and service sales at our panel of more than 100 tire dealers nationwide appeared to soften again in May after a slight rebound in April.
The Tire Review Dealer Panel reported a strong April in retail passenger tire unit sales vs. the same month last year. Final April numbers for tire unit sales show a 1% increase vs. April 2007. But preliminary results for May show a softening in consumer purchases of almost 1% from May of last year. In the individual tire segments for May, broadline and high performance units are running about 1% behind 2007, while light truck/SUV unit sales are up a meager 0.3%.
After dropping dramatically in February and March, (down 1% each from last year), both undercar and underhood sales rebounded. Final April results showed a 1.4% increase year-over-year, and preliminary May figures are about 0.5% ahead of May 2007 levels.
• It’s just not good right now and it doesn’t look like there is an end in sight.
• Economy is a real issue. People get sticker shock when they go to buy tires.
• How are we going to get the gas prices down?
• There is a lot of anger over the gas prices.
• What is the purpose of a run-flat tire? To me it just seems like they’re nothing more than a moneymaker.
• Health insurance is too high!
• Nitrogen might be something we all might be looking into at some point.
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