Last year, CarGurus introduced the world to a new kind of automotive conference: Navigate. This year, we’re bringing it back—but it’s going virtual! Your safety is our priority, so we’re sharing all the information you need to adapt to today’s rapidly shifting landscape right to you online this year. Navigate will take place over the course of two days: October 26 & 27, 2020. You can still expect an all-star lineup of industry gurus, tech experts, and in-depth workshops you won’t get anywhere else.
The majority of consumers in Canada have seen their life change in some way, shape, or form because of COVID-19. One example of this is people’s driving habits. Daily commutes have changed drastically for many and frequent trips to the store, gym, school, childcare facility, etc. are no longer the norm. Though many, if not most, will eventually return to their previous driving habits, the fact that people are staying home more and driving less has the potential to impact buying activity.
As a result, I wondered how such a significant shift in consumer behaviour might influence shoppers’ search behaviour and interest in vehicles this year. To answer this question, I analyzed used vehicle leads on CarGurus for the first half of 2020 and compared it to the used vehicle leads we saw for the same criteria in 2019.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, car dealers were already facing questions about what the future of the industry would look like. With consumers’ preferences changing and advancements in digital retailing strategies continuing to be made, many have been at least starting to think about tactics like online financing and home delivery. But the current health crisis has accelerated many of these trends, and today’s dealers must adapt to a new normal.
Like most businesses across the country, dealers have been taking proactive steps to ensure consumers’ safety at the dealership, rearranging showroom layouts to support social distancing, increasing cleaning measures, and more. According to CarGurus COVID-19 Sentiment Study, among current prospective buyers, top expectations for dealer visits to purchase or service a vehicle include:
Whether it’s due to a vehicle breaking down, a new commute, a growing family, or any number of reasons, a vehicle purchase is essential for many. That’s held true even during the current health crisis: 71% of those planning to buy this year cited the purchase as necessary, according to the CarGurus COVID-19 Sentiment Study in April. However, months later and our follow-up study found that about half (47%) of car shoppers aren’t as confident in their ability to afford a vehicle as a result of the pandemic.
As a result of consumers’ dwindling confidence, demand for financing is increasing. Before the pandemic, 47% of car buyers planned to finance their purchase. Now, 56% plan to or have already done so. Additionally, around one-third of those considering financing lost confidence in their ability to get approved (31%) and the financing rate they’d expect (34%).
As consumers emerge from lockdown, change travel plans, and reconsider what mobility will look like in the long-term, vehicles are becoming even more vital to everyday life, according to our latest COVID-19 Sentiment Study in Canada. In fact, nearly a third of those surveyed said they expect to use their car more going forward than before the pandemic.
In the near-term, 45% of respondents say they see their car as an escape or for fun. Additionally, 50% say they expect to use their car for more road trips or longer drives, while 73% of those planning to travel this year say they intend to drive, rather than fly, for at least one trip.
A month into the second half of the year, there are still questions about what recovery will look like for the auto industry. Our June COVID-19 Sentiment Study provided a glimpse into the new normal of car shopping — and the industry has taken note. Below are recent news stories that feature CarGurus’ latest data.
As a follow-up to the Consumer Sentiment Study we presented in April, CarGurus surveyed an additional 505 shoppers in June to see how their feelings toward car shopping have changed during the pandemic. Overall, the study shows that despite lingering near-term delays in car purchases, most sales are not expected to be lost in the long term. Here are the key takeaways for dealers – or you can read the full report here.
Calling all dealers driving difference in their community! Share your story to win a Back-to-Business Kit
Even during the current health crisis, you’ve been there to help your community. Delivering meals to hospital staff, providing free oil changes for frontline workers, and more. Now, it’s time you get rewarded for it.
CarGurus wants to celebrate the dealers driving difference in their community—and help them get back to business quickly—which is why we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our Driving Difference contest.
Last week, CarGurus hosted a virtual Dealer Insights Summit to provide Canadian dealers with actionable tactics and targeted insights around today’s unique environment. The event featured exclusive insights into current consumer sentiment, pro tips for using CarGurus tools, a live Canadian dealer panel discussion, and more. Below are four important takeaways from the online event.