Throughout the pandemic, CarGurus has kept a pulse on consumer sentiment around car buying through its Covid Sentiment Study. The Q3 edition, which surveyed 503 Canadian consumers in July, found good news for dealers: consumer confidence is up 21 percentage points. Seven in ten (74%) say the pandemic did not negatively impact their ability to afford a vehicle today, vs. just five in ten (53%) in June 2020.
However, the pandemic continues to have a lasting impact on the industry, shaping attitudes around car buying. Below, we explore which trends are temporary and which are here to stay.
At Navigate last year, CarGurus founder and CEO Langley Steinert sat down with Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein to chat. During their conversation, Langley spoke about Covid as a catalyst for change in the industry and highlighted the importance of innovation—by dealers and CarGurus. Watch this 3-minute video for the highlights:
As we all know, 2020 has been an unprecedented year that has challenged us in ways we never anticipated. Dealership shutdowns, economic uncertainty, and more—yet, our dealer partners have pressed on, demonstrating resilience in the face of extraordinary circumstances.
Despite today’s unique environment, we’ve all accomplished a lot, so we took a moment to reflect on everything we did in 2020. Here are some of the highlights.
In October, business leader and author Peter Sheahan took the virtual stage at CarGurus Navigate to share his strategies for growth with dealers from around the world. In his presentation, How to Turn Challenge into Opportunity and Change into Competitive Advantage, Peter explained why it is crucial that dealers adapt and gave tips for navigating today’s challenging selling environment. In particular, he described three steps for a transformation journey that helps dealers accelerate growth in a disrupted world:
Nine months in and the Covid pandemic continues to sweep across the globe, impacting nearly every industry, including automotive. To keep a pulse on the virus’s impact on car shopping sentiments, CarGurus has surveyed over 1,500 car shoppers over three separate studies and benchmarked the results. Here, we break down our latest COVID-19 Sentiment Study conducted in November and share key takeaways on digital retail, supply, and financing.
CarGurus Director of Sales in Canada Sam LaPointe recently joined Joe Overby of Auto Remarketing Canada to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities facing car dealers in Canada. In the podcast, they also delve into topics including:
As COVID-19 restrictions continue and even increase in pockets across Canada, automotive sales have been remarkably resilient. Consumers who formerly relied on public transit or ride-hailing are buying cars for the first time or replacing their existing vehicles, spurred on by the social distance they naturally provide.
But do automotive dealers need to worry about another decline as we head into winter and a second wave? From the perspective of complete shutdowns, most likely not: the lessons learned through the initial spring lockdowns are allowing dealerships and other low-risk businesses to continue operating with the right measures in place.
However, some tweaks to the systems and mindsets put in place in April and May could help dealers stay ahead of the unforeseen challenges through the colder months.
Inventory acquisition has long been a pain point for dealers. It requires a combination of data, precedent, and dealer’s intuition to keep a lot stocked with in-demand vehicles that will move. And that’s before you consider other factors that fluctuate like changing consumer behavior, economic trends, and unanticipated events that affect supply and demand.
Dealers have been weathering changes and adapting their strategies for decades. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the industry—particularly, on supply. It’s led to auctions moving online, manufacturing plants being shut down by OEMs, lease extensions, and an overall shift in consumers’ preferences. Together, these variables have added up to a shortage of quality new and used vehicles unlike ever before.
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: