Automotive accessories and appearance product retail sales are enjoying a healthy marketplace at a time when many industries and businesses are fighting to get ahead or stay afloat. Sales of accessory products for vehicles have increased an astonishing 183 percent, from $5.2 billion in 1990 to more than $14.7 billion in 2001, according to data from SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association. SEMA pegs the entire automotive specialty equipment retail sales market in the United States at $26 billion for 2001.The popularity of light trucks (SUVs, vans and pick-up trucks) is one major factor driving accessory and appearance product sales to new heights. This trend, and others, such as the continuing popularity of adding accessories to new cars, will be shown at the SEMA Spring Expo in Nashville, Tenn., February 14-15, 2003.To help exploit these hot market segments, the Expo will bring together professionals from the light truck specialty and the vehicle restyling niches at the February trade show. SEMA's Truck Cap and Accessory Alliance (TCAA) and the Professional Restylers Organization (PRO) will, for the first time, combine many core elements of these popular and profitable industry segments for industry professionals in the Midwest and Southeast at the SEMA Spring Expo.The Expo will also showcase the newest car and truck accessories and restyling products from leading industry suppliers. Passenger cars currently account for 25 percent of the accessory market. Much of that is being spent to modify sport compact vehicles, in what is called the compact performance market -- the fastest-growing segment of the entire automotive specialty market.The light truck product segment has the largest footprint in the market, however."Products for light trucks now account for 75 percent of all accessory dollars spent in the United States," says Jim Spoonhower, SEMA vice president of market research. "The light truck accessory and appearance segment of our market climbed steadily between 1994 and 2001, from $3.3 billion in 1994 to $8.0 billion in 2001."According to SEMA, the average household income of light truck product consumers is $56,855, with the vast majority of them (69.8 percent) falling into the 25 to 54 age group. Restyling product consumers earn an average of $49,394, with an average age of 40.4. More than 83 percent of light truck specialty equipment consumers and 74.7 percent of restyling specialty equipment product consumers are in households with an annual income of at least $35,000. "We've found that the number one concern for consumers as they select and use their vehicles is durability, followed by safety," says Spoonhower. "The Expo will provide insights into these topics as well as specific niche market data and future industry directions -- all the tools necessary to keep companies on top of the trends." Besides displaying the newest car and truck accessories and restyling products from the leading industry suppliers, the SEMA Spring Expo will provide new business, networking and profit opportunities to capitalize on the continuing light truck product market upward trends.