The world’s largest home improvement chain store is getting behind the wheel to try and drive auto parts dealers off the road. According to Auto Service World, Home Depot is test marketing the sale of auto parts in 10 stores in Florida. The retailer is using 500 s.f. in its stores to sell a line of motor oils and fuel additives, and auto parts. Home Depot is reportedly seeking to sell auto supplies for as much as 22% below other retailers, like the AutoZone and Pep Boys. One analyst warned that if Lowe’s follows Home Depot’s lead, then the auto parts retailers could see some significant loss of market share. “We are somewhat concerned for auto-parts retailers given that Home Depot already targets the appropriate customer base, the male do-it-yourselfer,” the analyst told Auto Service World. According to a Reuters report, Home Depot will sell such auto accessories as seat covers, floor mats and batteries in the Jacksonville, Florida, area, to measure customer demand. “We’ve noticed customer interest in this area,” a Home Depot spokesman told the wire service. Home Depot is shifting more of its focus to the professional builder, and is also testing convenience stores and gas in 4 stores in Tennessee.
This will be an interesting irony for all those auto parts stores and gas retailers who said nothing when Home Depot came to their city or town. They sat back and figured they had no dog in this hunt, and that only building supply stores would take the hit. Home Depot’s move into gasoline was surprisingly slow, given the fact that Wal-Mart has been doing gas stations for at least ten years now. This trend to “sell anything” just is a reminder that these large chain stores are really only a brand, or logo, and not a specific product line. If you can get people into your parking lot, sell them anything. Unfortunately, this leads to rampant overdevelopment, empty stores, and terrible land use policy.