British motorists buy more car parts online than cosmetics or groceries, research finds

UK consumers spent £920M online for parts and the figure is forecast to rise to £1.7B by 2022

British motorists buy more car parts online than cosmetics or groceries, research finds
In 2016, UK motorists increased their annual spending on car maintenance by 1.7% to an average of £707. Image: Bigstock.

British motorists bought a higher percentage of automotive parts, accessories and services online than they did cosmetics and groceries in 2016, according to research commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders from independent consultancy Frost & Sullivan.

Consumers spent some £920 million on items such as tyres, brakes and batteries, and by 2022 this is forecast to rise by more than three quarters to £1.65 billion.

The findings also showed that motorists increased their annual spending on car maintenance by 1.7 per cent to an average of £707.

Motorists spend more on maintenance

This was due, in part, to the replacement of more high-tech components, which require new skills and equipment to fit.

While tyres, lubricants and filters are still the most commonly replaced items, the research shows that demand is rising fastest for telematics devices and tyre pressure monitoring sensors.

The performance figures highlight the sector’s significant contribution to the UK economy.

In 2016, the UK automotive aftermarket, which includes parts makers, distributors, retailers and workshops, grew its contribution to the economy by 2.5 per cent to £12.5 billion and created 1,400 new jobs.

Industry challenges

The increasing digitalisation of cars and components presents challenges and opportunities to the sector as it strives to keep pace with advanced vehicle technology, data driven servicing and the changing needs of motorists.

There is also consumer appetite for connected services such as vehicle health reports, fault detection and recall alerts, all of which make it easier to maintain cars.

The research identifies growing interest in emerging forms of mobility such as car sharing schemes, forecast to attract some 2.3 million members worldwide by 2025, and e-hailing.

Comparison websites

Consumers are also increasingly turning to other digital services for their maintenance needs and online comparison websites, common in the insurance and finance sectors, are now entering the aftermarket.

An estimated 100,000 people in the UK are currently using these sites to compare workshop offerings and prices, and this is set to grow significantly.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Today’s figures show just how vital the UK automotive aftermarket is to our economy and society, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and keeping vehicles safe – and the country moving.

“Our car maintenance sector is one of Europe’s most competitive, with vehicle owners enjoying more choice over where they have their cars serviced.

“The shift to digital vehicles and services will help drive this further, but the sector must continue to invest in the advanced skills, equipment and systems needed to stay abreast of evolving technology and changing mobility patterns.”

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