Lang Aftermarket iReport: Auto parts store battle


“Big changes are sweeping across the population mix of Automotive Jobbers and Retail Auto Parts Stores as they battle for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) product sales in the U.S. aftermarket.

“Although the combined number of Auto Parts Stores (Jobbers and Retail Auto Parts Stores) has increased, the populations of Jobbers and Retail Auto Parts Stores are moving in opposite directions. See the soon-to-be-released 2021 Lang Aftermarket Annual for all details.”

— Jim Lang, publisher, Lang Aftermarket iReport


Auto Parts Stores: An Overall Category

Auto Parts Stores are outlets for which automotive products comprise virtually all of their sales (DIY and DIFM). Auto Parts Stores include two competing major groups of automotive parts outlets: Automotive Jobbers and Retail Auto Parts Stores.

Competition between these two outlet groups has increased as Retail Auto Parts Stores have expanded their share of the fast-growing DIFM parts market.

Automotive Jobbers

Automotive Jobbers are part of the Traditional distribution channel in which Manufacturers sell to Warehouses, who distribute to Jobbers, who in turn sell parts to Installers (Service outlets and Do-It-Yourselfers).

This three-step distribution (involving Warehouses, Jobbers, and Installers) generates the majority of Traditional channel sales. However, a growing share of Traditional channel sales follow a more streamlined two-step distribution pattern.

Two-Step Traditional Distribution

There are two types of two-step Traditional distribution.

One form of two-step Traditional distribution involves Jobbers buying direct from Manufacturers, Rebuilders, and other businesses (bypassing Warehouses) and selling to end-users.

In another version of two-step Traditional distribution, Warehouses sell direct to end-users (by-passing Jobbers).

Retail Auto Parts Stores

Retail Auto Parts Stores generate most of their volume (which is dominated by several large chains) from the DIY aftermarket sector.

Retail Auto Parts Stores participate in the Integrated distribution channel in which product ownership does not change hands from the time products are purchased from Manufacturers to their sale to Installers (DIYers or DIFM outlets).

In the Integrated channel, company-owned Warehouses purchase products direct from Manufacturers and distribute them to company-owned stores for sale to Installers.

Fewer Jobber Outlets

Automotive Jobbers are declining in number. As a result of growing aftermarket competition and changing distribution channel strength, the Jobber store population fell at more than a 2.5% average annual pace between mid-year 2000 and July 2014.

Jobber Population Decline Rate Slows

Since 2014, the rate of Jobber store closings in the U.S. has slowed.

While Lang Marketing has not finalized its official Jobber 2019 count, it estimates the annual rate of Jobber store closings from 2014 to 2019 averaged less than 1.0%.

Falling Jobber DIY Share

Jobbers represent a diminishing portion of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) automotive product sales. Jobbers generated approximately 17.5% of light vehicle DIY product volume in the U.S. during 2009.

Over the next ten years, Jobber DIY sales share declined. Lang Marketing estimates Jobbers generated less than 14.5% of 2018 automotive DIY product sales in the U.S. Jobbers’ share of the 2019 DIY auto parts market was even lower.

Retail Auto Parts Stores Expand

Over 1,700 Retail Auto Parts Stores were added nationwide between 2009 and 2016, while the Jobber store count fell by approximately 400.

Retail Auto Parts Stores have continued to increase in number over the past three years, up an estimated 400 outlets during 2017 to 2019.

See the soon-to-be-released 2021 Lang Aftermarket Annual for all details.

Retail Auto Parts Stores Target Commercial Sales

Retail Auto Parts Stores have expanded their overall aftermarket sales by developing professional installer programs to capture an increasing portion of the growing Commercial auto parts market (sales to professional Installers).

Do-It-For-Me Market Growth

While DIFM market expansion would seem to favor Jobbers more than Retail Auto Parts Stores, the opposite has occurred.

Retail Auto Parts Stores, through their aggressive Commercial programs, are growing in outlet count while the Jobber store population is declining (although at a diminishing annual rate).

As a result, the Retail Auto Parts Stores and Jobber populations are moving in opposite directions.

Six Major Takeaways

There has been a dramatic shift in the population mix of Auto Parts Stores (Jobbers and Retail Auto Parts Stores).

  • Jobber locations declined at a 2.7% annual average pace between 2000 and 2014. However, Jobber store loss in the U.S. slowed to one-third of that pace over the next five years.
  • As the Jobber population fell by approximately 600 between 2009 and 2019, over 2,100 Retail Auto Parts Stores were added nationwide.
  • The expanding number of Retail Auto Parts Stores is being driven, in large part, by their increasing Commercial auto parts business (sales to professional Installers).
  • Despite the declining Jobber population, the growth of Retail Auto Parts Stores has enabled the total number of Auto Parts Stores (Jobbers and Retail Auto Parts Stores) to climb more than 4% over the past ten years.
  • Lang Marketing estimates Retail Auto Parts Stores increased their share of Auto Parts Stores in the U.S. by more than one-quarter between 2000 and 2019. See the 2021 Lang Aftermarket Annual (scheduled for release in 60 days) for complete details.

Copyright 2020 by Lang Marketing Resources, Inc.

NOTESpecial thanks to publisher Jim Lang for granting us permission to publish the Lang Aftermarket iReport.

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