Retailing: Ready, Set, Sell!

Peter-James Gregory is President of Atlas Tire Wholesale Inc.

Are you ready for the winter tire selling season?

Time flies. Winter is just around the corner and for tire retailers winter should already be here. You should have your winter inventory on hand, have your sales and service teams up to date on new winter fitments and have your showrooms decked out with current winter tire displays etc. You should be prepared.

Winter 2015 was a “non-event” in most of Canada—we really did not get a winter. However, despite the lack of adverse winter conditions such as snow, sleet and ice in most markets, winter tires still sold. This proves there is a growing cohort of consumers who realize winter tires are an important safety item in colder temperatures. We all know temperature is the silent threat, and cold temperatures can be more dangerous than just snow. In the UK, they market winter tires as “cold weather tires” to reinforce the point.

Winter may have paused for 2015, but the market kept moving and evolving. In 2016, with the predicted return of a normal winter, you may be dealing with a significant difference in the market. Below are some key points that should help you be better prepared for the evolved market reality.

Emerging and high demand sizes

• 225/65R17 continues to lead this category. Expect a dramatic increase in demand based on popular OE fitments.

• 215/55R16 is the base OE on 2016 and 2017 Honda Civics. You can downsize the Civic to 205/65R15, with applicable 15” wheels, creating increased demand for a size that was previously dying.

• 245/60R18 for many popular SUVs and in most cases this can be downsized to 245/65R17, with applicable 17” wheels.

• 2016 Chevrolet Cruze has new sizes 195/65R15, 205/55R16 and 225/45R17.

• 2017 Audi A4 19” is now 245/35R19 and not 255/35R19 as in the past.

• 2017 redesigned GMC Acadia with 235/65R18.

• New vehicles such as Buick Envision SUV, Jaguar F-pace SUV, Jaguar XE sport sedan are creating increased demand for select tire sizes.

Potential shortages

Despite the lack of winter in 2015, there were still some sizes with supply issues—demand was outstripping supply. Increased size and SKU proliferation is a market reality, and tire manufacturers are facing difficulty in meeting demand in some areas. There will be shortages on some key sizes or SKUs in 2016, and some of these shortages are already becoming a reality. Prepare to beat the shortages by having the right winter inventory at your store now.

Winter comes once per year. In our industry, winter is a critical element for a profitable and successful year. The lack of winter in 2015 reinforced this, but you cannot live in the past; 2015 is gone and we are now facing winter 2016.

You have one chance to have a successful winter 2016. It is important to your business. Prepare for winter 2016 by understanding the demands of the market and preparing your winter inventory to meet market demand. For example, if you do not have 215/5516 winters in stock, or if you do not have 15” wheels to fit Honda and 205/65R15 winters in stock, you are not prepared to meet the demand from the very popularHonda Civic.

While we all say we need a successful winter 2016, to increase your chances of success you must prepare to achieve success. You have to be prepared at the starting line to cross the finish line in a podium position.

Prepare to win and have a great winter selling season.

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