Skip to content

Think your dealership can’t be a holiday shopping destination? Think again.

Posted by Meg Bernazzani on December 8, 2021

This holiday shopping season is shaping up to be unlike anything the automotive industry has seen. With a shortage of vehicle inventory, the lease and sales incentives dealerships typically employ to entice buyers through their doors in December will be conspicuously absent in 2021. On top of that, supply chain disruptions are a problem for every industry, not just automotive, and consumers are being bombarded with messaging about short supplies of everything this holiday season, from electronics to groceries and even the trees many will need for tucking gifts underneath.

How can an automotive dealership make the best of a challenging situation? Consider giving your holiday promotions a rethink. Customers who are more strapped than usual for holiday gift selection may be open to creative ideas. There could be some payoff in putting effort into a holiday season push outlining the unique gifts you have available, which your customers might very well end up thanking you for. Here are some ideas for how to go about it.

Don’t focus only on seasonal items

Ski and snowboard racks, all-weather floor and cargo mats, and dealer-installed remote starters are obvious items to push during winter weather, and it’s a great idea to focus on those. But road trip enthusiasts might appreciate a rooftop cargo box, and overlanding accessories like rooftop tents are gaining in popularity. After all, 49% of Canadian car buyers expect to go on more road trips going forward.

Bike racks can be useful year-round for bikers who switch to fat biking trails during the colder months. And, of course, a brand’s biggest enthusiasts might appreciate merchandise like apparel, watches, or die-cast cars. Alternatively, gift cards are a catch-all way to let buyers give the gift of flexibility, especially since they also cover costs in your service department such as detailing, oil changes, or other maintenance.

Consider making a separate push for winter tires

Now that most of your regular tire change customers have been through your service department, there may be an opportunity to secure some extra sales through the holidays. People who have already taken care of their tire changes may not yet have considered their friends and family members who don’t usually make the switch but should. For relatives of these types of drivers, winter tires could be framed as a practical gift given out of genuine concern for road safety.

Expand your local market

In today’s digital-centric world, not every shopper wants to visit a showroom in-person to discuss their purchase: 63% of recent car buyers say the’d prefer to do more of the car-buying process from home for their next purchase. As a result, shoppers are more willing than ever to look (and travel, if necessary) outside their immediate local market to get the vehicle they want—and that creates an opportunity for your dealership.

CarGurus Area Boost helps dealers compete in low-supply markets by showing their deliverable listings to low-funnel shoppers outside their local market. Dealers identify a target radius and shipping costs, then watch as the shopper connections start rolling in. Participating dealers start at 20% more VDP views from shoppers in their target market. Learn more here.


Having all the accessories in the world in stock doesn’t matter much if your customers don’t know you have them, and merely planting the suggestion in their heads may be just the nudge that’s needed to get their gears turning. Traditional advertising methods can achieve this, of course, but consider taking them a step further by adding a dedicated page to your website. Ideally, this could include an online shopping component: automotive digital sales firm Hedges & Company estimates that eCommerce comprised nearly $20 billion in North American new auto parts sales in 2020 with CA$4.9 billion of that being based in Canada. How much of that will go to other online retailers versus your dealership is entirely up to you.

On top of this, as outlined above, there are enough potential gift ideas available at your dealership to build an entire email or social media promotional campaign lasting days or weeks. Twelve days of automotive holiday gift ideas, anyone? Consider having some fun with it by tying in a contest, giveaway, or discounts to attract additional attention. Who knows? Maybe there’s more of an appetite for automotive holiday gift shopping out there than you might think.

Topics: holidays, Marketing tips, sales