BOWIE, Md.—During April, Tier 4 tire brands gained an increased share of the aftermarket, even as overall tire sales plummeted in the U.S., according to research firm GfK U.S.
"What we are seeing is a shift from the Tier 1 brand down to the Tier 2 and Tier 3, and we're seeing the biggest increase in the Tier 4 brands," Neil Portnoy, GfK managing director, POS tracking, said during a May 6 webinar sponsored by the Tire Industry Association.
"Usually, what happens in a 'normal year' is that the year starts out with the Tier 1 brands taking a little bit of a hit and they recover in Q2, Q3 and Q4. But what we're seeing now, through our weekly data, is that Tier 1 is continuing to decline and Tier 4 is showing some significant growth."
During the webinar, GfK shared tire sales data it collected from the point of sale systems of a panel of 3,500 tire retailers across the U.S.
"Retail sales are absolutely rebounding," Portnoy said. "We saw in the last couple of weeks in April, sales have significantly bounced off the lows. This is correlating with the (federal) stimulus checks being delivered to people's bank accounts and people feeling a bit more confident about spending money and buying tires."
For the week ending April 11, tire sales plummeted nearly 50 percent, according to GfK data, but since then the market rallied as stimulus checks were delivered, down 15 percent during the last week of April and down 11 percent for the week ending May 2, compared with the year-ago period.
Traditionally, the first quarter of the year is a strong sales period for Tier 4 brands, but then in subsequent quarters, Tier 4 brands lose market share to upper tier brands, according to Dave Stevens, GfK's vice president, POS tracking.
Among the brands GfK defines as Tier 3 are: Cordovan, Eldorado, Fuzion, Giti, Hercules, Kelly, Nokian, Sailun, Sumitomo, Multimile, Uniroyal, etc. Tier 4 brands are all other brands with smaller market share.