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Trends in Consumables

Autosphere » Mechanical » Trends in Consumables
Needed consumables—wiper blades. Photo Shirley Brown

Autosphere was interested in learning what jobbers today thought of ‘Trends in Consumables’ so we set about asking three jobbers what their thoughts were on these topics.

We spoke with Rob Hollinger, Ideal Supply; Alex Parker, Carquest and John Boudreau of Part Stop.

First off, we asked what trends the jobbers had seen for consumables over the last two years.

“That’s an interesting question as I’m not 100% sure there has been any significant increase in demand for consumables (like filters, oil, wiper blades, etc.), stated Rob. “I do know that at the onset of COVID, the uncertainty of jobs and the scarcity of new vehicles made people repair their existing vehicles, so we did see a little uptick in “maintenance” types of repairs, but consumables are needed regardless of the age of the vehicle. However, with the supply chain issues, it feels like we are scrambling to find a product. Then if you do find the product more customers are looking to buy from you thus making it feel like there is a greater demand. Basically, it feels that whoever has the product gets the sale.”

“I would say that in the last 6-8 months, trends have returned to normal or what things were before the start of the pandemic. In the year before, there was a large increase in Nitrile gloves, cleaners, paper towel products, safety—glasses, face shields, dust masks—but that would not be a normal automotive industry increase,” John recounts.

What’s in high demand?

Autosphere: We next wondered what certain products were in high demand—i.e. degreasers, sprays, etc.?

Alex stated, “One trend I have been noticing in the industry over the last few years is there are a lot more engine cleaning products available on the market. With more direct injection vehicles hitting the market, we are seeing manufacturers suggesting a cleaning product be used. Diesel Exhaust fluid is another item that has been in higher demand over the last few years with a lot more vehicles on the road requiring it. We are also seeing a higher demand for interior cleaners and PPE but that has slowed in the last few months.

Boudreau remarked that Spray Nine cleaners were in demand but again says all is pretty much back to normal now.

Rob said that the demand for cleaners, sanitizers, etc., has greatly increased because of COVID but it has somewhat slowed down but is still much higher than pre-COVID days.

AS: We asked that from the jobber perspective, have supply chains impacted the availability of consumable products for your own jobber location/s.

John told us that in the last couple of years, his availability of paper products, Nitrile gloves and safety products have been difficult to source, and they had to supply customers with different brands in order to fulfill their needs. In his opinion, this situation has returned to normal.

Rob stated, “Absolutely they have, but we should cut the manufacturers a little slack as no one knew what the conditions of the pandemic were going to bring. Most were trying to make sure they stayed afloat and not many expected that the automotive aftermarket would only see a short downtick. Then when things returned to “somewhat” normal requirements, they were unable to return to normal production thus forcing a major shortage in some consumables.”

And Alex added, “Supply changes have had a huge impact on day-to-day operations in the store. This has also increased the price of a lot of common items we sell. Over the past few months, we have seen more products starting to become available again so hopefully the shortages aren’t going to remain a common issue.”

AS: Having said all this, we wondered if this has had any impact on their customers.

Boudreau stated that there was no real impact on their customers. Most were understanding of what was happening or they sourced other brands for their needs. Hollinger added, “In the beginning, most of our customers were very understanding of the situation and appreciated whatever product/ information we could give them. However, as things began to open up and they were looking to make up for a lost time, their frustration levels began to rise with the ongoing supply issues. This again has opened the doors for suppliers with inventory or availability of products to expand the customer base. And Alex said, “These shortages have changed the buying habits of some customers. They are starting to keep extra consumables like brake lube at their shops in case it is not locally available at a jobber store. Customers are taking advantage of sales and stocking up when the price is better.”

Rob Hollinger has this to add to this situation, “I think that if the pandemic taught us anything, it is basically how fragile our supply chain really was. We relied a lot on “foreign” products or raw materials to build our everyday consumables. Also, we seemed to have manufacturing plants working at capacity so when they started back up, they were never able to backfill the required demand, and, honestly, in some cases still haven’t.”

 

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