1Q retail report: It was bad

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The average retail tire dealer had a rough first three months of the year, according to Modern Tire Dealer's State-of-the Industry Survey.

More than half (53.6%) of the respondents to the exclusive first-quarter 2009 survey reported unit sales were down - by an average of 16%. The outlook wasn't any better when taking dollar sales into account: 53.8% said sales were down by an average of 17%.

On the bright side, 27.6% of the respondents said unit sales were up (by an average of 10%) and 33.9% said dollar sales were up (by an average of 11%). Unit and dollar sales were even for the rest of the dealers (18.6% and 12.3%, respectively).

All dealers being equal, the average dealer experienced a 5.8% decrease in unit sales and 5.4% decrease in dollar sales for the first quarter of 2009. Here's how those numbers compare to first-quarter survey results for the last two years.

Average 1Q results for retail tire dealers (compared to the previous year)

Sales              2009              2008              2007

Units:              Down 5.8%  Down 2.1%   Up 3.1%

Dollars:           Down 5.4%  Up 0.1%        Up 3.8%

When asked, "What do you project your full-year tire sales to be?" tire dealers were only a little more optimistic. Close to 35% projected unit sales will be up (by an average of 9%) compared to 2008, while 39.9% believe their dollar sales will be up (by an average of 10%).

In contrast, 43.8% projected unit sales will be down by an average of 15%, while 44% estimated dollar sales will be down by an average of 15%. The remaining dealers projected no change in their respective unit and dollar sales.

When MTD asked retailers to compare their "bottom-line profitability" for the first three months of 2009 to the same time frame in 2008, overall results were similar: 33.5% said sales were up, 49.7% said sales were down, and 16.8% said sales were the same.

For a look at how wholesale tire dealers fared, check out "1Q wholesale report: better than retail," on

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