In a year marked by supply issues, the big deals happening in the retail-tire industry have defined 2021.
A decade or more from now, 2021 might be just a small blip in the history that is the tire business. Compared with the year that preceded it — will anyone forgot when COVID-19 became part of our collective vocabulary? — there's a good chance 2021 will be the nondescript middle child who gets overlooked when the first-born excels at sports or the baby of the family graduates from high school.
But behind the vanilla facade that is the last 12 months lurks a year that just may go down as one that changed the tire industry.
Some may remember it for the supply-chain issues that tamped down those sales celebrations in every tire shop. While many manufacturers and dealers have registered double-digit growth in 2021, even compared with a non-pandemic fiscal year, the thought invariably is: "If we had more product, we could sell even more."
The supply chain, of course, is an issue today, with ports filled with container ships, waiting to be unloaded.
We've all heard, or perhaps witnessed first-hand, the rising costs of transportation, as well as the for containers used for shipment.
Then there's the daily notice that a tire maker is raising prices on some specific fitments, and the consumer who came into your shop six weeks ago asking for a price of a replacement set gasps when he or she discovers that price has increased substantially.
A big part of the problem, both with supply and pricing, is the effect the pandemic had on the industry itself. When factories around the world shut production in early 2020 for weeks at a time, some multiple times, the result is less product on the market.
Those supply chain and product shortages are problems today, and we guarantee we will be discussing those topics for months to come. There is no easy fix but time.