Auto parts retailers are benefiting from consumers now making good on their intentions to keep their aging vehicles on the road longer, after deferring repairs for the last two years. According to automotive aftermarket research by The NPD Group, a leading market research company, auto parts retailers experienced a seven percent growth in dollar sales for year-to-date April 2010 versus a year ago.

NPD’s Aftermarket Industry Monitor, which tracks item-level sales at more than 18,000 U.S. auto parts store,  finds that the sales growth is driven by applications parts, which increased 10 percent in dollar volume for the January through April 2010 time period versus a year-ago. The dollar gains, according to the “Aftermarket Industry Monitor,” came from real unit volume growth reflecting an actual increase in consumer transactions for replacement parts. Much of the volume growth came through the commercial channel, as repair shop bays filled up with aging vehicles.

“I believe what we’re seeing is that consumers have begun to recognize that repair costs are more economical than replacement costs,” says David Portalatin, industry analyst for NPD’s automotive aftermarket business. “Consumers have been telling us for two years   they were aware their autos needed service but they were putting it off. They are now realizing they can no longer put off the services and are making the needed repairs.”

The top five hard parts categories, based on unit volume percent change for year ending April 2010, are suspension, application electrical, climate control, brakes, and driveline.

“The increase in application parts sales is a case where consumers’ intentions, what they say, did portend exactly to what they would do in the future.” says Portalatin. “By paying attention to what consumers said in 2009, marketers could anticipate what consumers would do in 2010.”

[Source:  “Aftermarket Industry Monitor.”  The NPD Group. 9 Aug. 2010.  Web.  17 Aug. 2010.]