While there are plenty of changes happening in the world of tires so far this year, none may be wilder than the dramatic swing in demand.
Domestic production — in some segments — dropped to a level in 2020 not seen in decades. A year later, manufacturers can't make enough tires.
Boy, what a year makes.
The industry was stunned in March and April 2020 — shutting production and watching demand nosedive. We all went into survival mode to keep everyone safe.
It seemed after the initial screeching halt of a terrible second quarter, the rest of the year saw pent-up demand ooze out. And maybe, just maybe, the start of recovery.
After all, people had a bit of extra cash in their pockets via stimulus funds, and they really had nowhere to spend it because most everything was closed. Plus, many had put off vehicle maintenance, and consumers are looking to keep their vehicles longer.
It kind of felt like the tide was turning this year.
"Business this year really has started off as one of our strongest on record. Service has been the driving force on this," Dustin Dobbs, vice president and director of retail sales at Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers Inc., told Tire Business in our Mid-Year Report focused on the aftermarket.
"Let's face it, no one was using their cars with the pandemic, and that has started to pick up and, for us, it really started to pick up in the middle of last year, in July, and continued through this year as well. In January and February this year, which in our industry is a down part of the year, this year it was not. It was very good for our company."