DIAMOND BAR, Calif. (April 14, 2004) — Retail sales from the automotive specialty equipment industry continued its growth pattern, totaling $28.9 billion last year, which was an increase of 7.7 percent over 2002, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Research and Information Center.
The increase comes amid a relatively sluggish economy, SEMA said, with the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) up 3.1 percent in 2003.
The Diamond Bar-based trade association said that as automotive products continue to become more persvasive in American culture and its lifestyle, more and more accessories are being purchased by non-enthusiast consumers.
Appearance accessories led the industry's growth last year, with nearly $17 billion in sales—a market share of 57.8 percent.
Second in prominence in 2003, with $7.2 billion in sales, were wheels, tires and suspension products, SEMA reported. That segment's 24.9-percent market share last year was the same as in 2002.
Performance parts hit $5 billion in sales last year, accounting for a 17.3-percent market share vs. a 24-percent share in 2002, according to SEMA.
Meanwhile, the association said the compact performance market increased 35 percent in 2003, generating more than $3 billion in retail sales. When SEMA began tracking this niche market segment in 1997, retail sales were only $295 million, with less than 200 manufacturers involved. Since that time, SEMA's Research and Information Center said, the market has experienced “explosive growth”—increasing more than 984 percent.
Last year, for example, the association's trade show in Las Vegas included nearly 600 exhibitors selling products in the sport compact market.
“Each year brings new entrants,” SEMA said, “but in the face of such growth, this is still a market that is easy to enter. The ones that have the greatest success are those that the consumers perceive as real and that fit within the scene.”