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Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry

Bracha Arnold
February 26, 2024
Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry

We checked in with AutoZone and O’Reilly – two pandemic winners from the auto parts industry – to understand what location intelligence reveals about the retailers in 2024. 

AutoZone & O’Reilly Auto Parts Maintaining Their Gains

AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts are both major players in the multi-billion dollar automotive aftermarket industry with thousands of locations across the country. As car prices skyrocketed over the pandemic, visits to these retailers increased – and analyzing foot traffic patterns to these retailers reveals that although growth in the sector may be slowing down, leading auto parts chains are holding on to their pandemic gains. 

On a year-over-year (YoY) basis, visits to AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts continued growing in the first half of 2023 before stalling in Q3 2023 and dipping in Q4. But looking at year-over-four-year (Yo4Y) visits suggests that the drop may be due to the challenging comparison to an unusually strong period rather than to any drop in demand for auto parts. Last year’s visits to both AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts were significantly higher than the chains’ 2019 baseline, with Q4 2023 visits exceeding Q4 2019 levels by 11.9% and 22.6% for AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts, respectively.

A Promising Start to 2024 

The pattern continued in January 2024, with visits to AutoZone and O’Reilly significantly higher than they were pre-pandemic, but slightly lower on a YoY basis. But the Q4 2023 YoY visit gaps narrowed for both chains, and used cars are still outselling new vehicle and fueling demand for car parts – so visits to the space are likely to remain strong in 2024. 

What’s Under The Hood? 

Analyzing the demographic data of visitors to O’Reilly Auto Parts and AutoZone reveals that both companies succeeded in staying far ahead of their pre-pandemic visit baseline despite attracting a large number of visitors from lower-income households. In 2023, the median household income (HHI) within the two chains’ potential market* trade area was lower than the nationwide median of $69.5K/year, while the median HHI in the captured market trade area was even lower. 

The income level of AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts’ visitor base may help explain the chains’ Yo4Y strength and the YoY lags. With prices for used cars still significantly higher than they were in 2019, budget-conscious consumers are likely looking to patch up their existing rides instead of trading them in for newer vehicles – which could explain the sustained Yo4Y growth. At the same time, the ongoing inflation is likely straining this segment’s available funds, which may account for the YoY dips towards the end of 2023.

*A chain’s potential market refers to the population residing in a given trade area, weighted to reflect the number of households in each Census Block Group (CBG) comprising the trade area. A chain’s captured market weighs each CBG according to the actual number of visits originating to the chain from that CBG.  

Country Roads vs. City Highways 

When focusing on the trade area median HHI, the visitor base of AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts looks nearly identical. But looking at the psychographic makeup of the two brands’ trade areas highlights differences between the companies. Using the Experian: Mosaic dataset to analyze the audience segments in the chains’ trade areas revealed that AutoZone tended to attract more city-based visitors, while O’Reilly seems to draw more small-town and rural households. Data from the PersonaLive’s dataset supports this pattern – and the success of both chains indicates that there is plenty of demand for car parts across a variety of audience types.

Cruise Control: Car Part Customer Chronicles

As both companies continue to expand, location intelligence indicates that there is plenty of demand for car parts to go around. 

For more data-driven retail analysis, visit

This blog includes data from Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection.

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