ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The pandemic has provided a tailwind for the aftermarket, one which began last year and will continue in the years to come according to the results of a recent survey conducted by The Martec Group.

6 Ways the Pandemic Is Impacting the Automotive Aftermarket reports the results of questioning 1,000 vehicle owners between November 2020 and January 2021 about their driving and upkeep plans for their primary vehicles.

The six major points developed from the study were:

  1. The pandemic resulted in fewer miles driven, but consumers plan to increase how much they drive when compared to pre-pandemic levels due to shifts in where they work/live.
  2. Consumers in urban areas are more likely to move out of the city and into suburban/rural areas, which will impact their usage and ownership of personal vehicles.
  3. As people move (particularly out of cities), they tend to move further away from their workplaces. They expect to drive greater distances for work (commuting) and household purposes (trips, shopping, etc.).
  4. The pandemic has caused many consumers to push off leasing or purchasing a vehicle, which is likely to impact the average age of vehicles on the road.
  5. The DIY market segment is expected to sustain much of its recent growth post-pandemic as consumers feel more confident working on their vehicles.
  6. There are distinct segments of the population regarding attitudes and behaviors toward vehicle repairs, parts purchasing, etc., with several of the larger segments becoming increasingly DIY focused — pointing toward a continued rise in retail and e-tail channels and DIY repairs.

According to Chuck Bean, Martec partner, overall, the pandemic has and will continue to provide the U.S. aftermarket with a tailwind. Consumers will be driving substantially more than during and even before the pandemic and their older vehicles will need upkeep and repairs.

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“We found people deferred maintenance during the pandemic,” Bean said. “Even though they had excess time [since many were working from home], they weren’t being used as they had in the past, so many vehicles just sat. So, shops should be busy as these vehicles get back on the road.”

Another spur for the aftermarket came through an uptick in both the do-it-yourselfer (DYI) and e-commerce segments.

“DYIers had time on their hands, so many broadened their abilities, digging into new types of projects,” explained Bean. “We saw this segment spike up as they became more comfortable with more complicated repairs. One of the things many of these people discovered was how to change brake pads. We expect this to soften over time, but not to pre-pandemic levels.

“Along with the increase in DYI came a boost to online parts purchasing. Online retailers have been a big beneficiary of the pandemic.”

The aftermarket retail, both brick-and-mortar and online, were strong during the pandemic, while wholesalers suffered, Bean observed.

“Overall, this has been great for the aftermarket,” he said.