The continued scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic has battered industries and small businesses, used car dealerships included. The automobile industry braced for the worst, expecting unprecedented losses. But surprisingly, even though dealerships and car manufacturers did take a hit, the path to recovery seemed to reveal itself much sooner then anyone had predicted.
The numbers aren’t as robust as they were in 2019, but that was to be expected. Forecasts for the Spring of 2020 were bleak at best. But much to the auto industry’s amazement, the month of May brought impressive new vehicle sales numbers.
Senior economist at Cox Automotive, Charlie Chesbrough, said, “Recent trends suggest daily sales are showing significant gains over March and April’s collapse. Data reveals the market hit a bottom around the first of April, and since then has been making a slow but steady recovery. The opening of dealerships and whole states, over the last few weeks is greatly contributing to the upward sales trend. The key question for the market going forward is whether these modest but steady sales gains will continue into June or does the sales recovery stagnate.”
Car Sales Rebound in May
Cox Automotive’s Manheim is reporting that while new vehicle sales were down 33% compared to May of 2019, car sales shot up an awesome 49% from last month alone. The annual vehicle sales pace is projected to finish the year at around 11.4 million after seasonal adjustments were incorporated into the assessment.
Cox Automotive also released a COVID-19 Digital Shopping Study 2.0 where they detail the shift in how consumers are buying new and used cars. The global pandemic has definitely made an impact on the shopping habits of used car buyers. Their findings suggest that upon dealerships opening again, and with enhanced safety measures put into place, consumers are expected to make a purchase in 30 days or less.
But the auto industry isn’t out of the woods yet. Summer selling season is warming up and even though May was a promising month for car sales, there are still obstacles ahead. The coronavirus slowed manufacturing and supply lines when factories were forced to close earlier in the year. This has created a rather unique problem, one of supply and demand, or lack thereof.
With new inventory at the lowest it’s been in over a year, even if consumers are considering buying a new car, they will likely have fewer options to choose from. This is especially true with vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks. Big-name car brands and dealers will have to get creative to contend with the shortages in inventory and lack of package options for car buyers.
Used Car Dealers Are Benefiting From Limited New Car Inventory
Used car sales are likely to see an increase as well. The lack of new car inventory and the recent downturn in the economy due to job loss and cutbacks has left consumers looking for the best deal possible.
Buy Here Pay Here dealerships are offering incentives like low APR, affordable down payments, generous financing options, and no credit checks to lure buyers in the door. Prior to COVID-19 taking over the United States, there was already an issue with new-vehicle affordability. That is likely to remain an issue as the months go on, but will likely benefit used car dealerships who stand to profit from the setbacks.
Cox Automotive estimates, “The total used vehicle sales volume was down 22.4% year-over-year in May. We estimate May used SAAR to be 32.0 million, down from 39.2 million last May but up from April’s 27 million rate. The May used retail SAAR estimate is 16.7 million, down from 21.0 million last year but up month-over-month from April’s 14.4 million rate.”
Technology Has Helped Used Car Sales
The global pandemic has left consumers with no option but to make purchases online. It was abundantly clear from the onset of COVID-19 that car sellers and automobile manufacturers would have to adopt the use of digital and virtual tools to maintain sales.
Since most Americans are still staying home and spending more time online, websites like Autotrader.com and KBB.com have been reporting record-setting traffic since the lockdown began. Traffic on vehicle description pages has shot up 150%, as well as onsite inquiries to dealerships. According to the Cox Automotive report, two-in-three consumers said that they are more likely to buy a car online.
Some dealerships have launched virtual car malls for shoppers to peruse available vehicles from the comfort of their homes. Some websites allow you to customize your vehicle right down to the interior, trim, and lights. While nothing can replace driving a new or used vehicle right off the lot, it seems that for the time being, the majority of car buyers’ decisions will be based on safety and if they are getting a great deal.
Hawthorne Auto Square Updated Coronavirus (COVID-19) Policies
As part of our goal to keep our environment clear of COVID-19, we have implemented enhanced sanitizing and social distancing procedures as recommended by the CDC. We have hand sanitizer throughout the dealership for customer and employee use. All of our sales team and staff are required to wear masks, per Los Angeles County’s new order.
Hawthorne Auto Square offers a large inventory of used cars, minivans, trucks, and SUVs, as well as a premium inventory of high-end vehicles. Visit our “buy here, pay here” dealership for help finding the vehicle you want and need.
To learn more about our wide selection of used vehicles, trade-in your vehicle, schedule a test drive, and view our latest inventory, call 866-707-7664 or visit our dealership at 11646 Prairie Ave. in Hawthorne.