AKRON-Most tire dealers participating in TIRE BUSINESS' Rapid Response Fax Poll said they experienced gains in tire sales during the first three months of 1996, but at a slower rate than during last year's final quarter. On average, tire sales gained 3.4 percent during the first quarter, compared with the first three months of 1995, while automotive service sales climbed 8.7 percent. But dealers were split nearly in thirds when asked whether the economic climate in their area was improved, worse or had remained the same.
Prices dipped 1.1 percent, despite the fact that dealers said the cost of doing business, including the cost of goods sold, rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter.
Looking ahead, 84 percent of the dealers polled said they expect tire and automotive service sales to increase during this year's second quarter.
Three-quarters of the dealers said they believe retail prices will remain the same or increase during the quarter. However, 64 percent felt the cost of doing business would rise as well.
All of the dealers polled said the economic climate would either remain the same or improve during the second quarter.
Dealers in the Midwest again fared best in terms of sales increases, posting 6- and 17.7-percent gains in tire and auto service sales respectively. Dealers in Southern states, however, saw their tire sales dip an average 2.2 percent, while prices dropped 3.3 percent.
Service sales along the West and East coasts remained strong, up 6.3 percent over the year-earlier period in the West and 9.5 percent in the East.
Midwestern dealers reported an increase in prices of 1.8 percent, while all other regions said their prices dropped between 0.5 percent and 3.3 percent.