COVID-19: A Tale of Two Weeks in Automotive

Automotive Retail

Despite blaring headlines in industry, trade and business publications about plummeting new vehicle auto sales, see some hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of a silver lining in the dark cloud.

auto sales US Covid-19 March New Car Sales Don 44%
3.16 - 3.31 New Car Sales Down 44%

Don’t get us wrong. Sales are off significantly. In fact, during the last 15 days of the March, across the U.S., sales of both domestic and import vehicles were off 44 percent compared to the prior two weeks. Only one state, Arkansas, had a sales decline of under 30 percent at 29 percent. 

US new car sales up COVID-19
4.1 - 4.5 New Car Sales UP 19%

However, the first week of April compared to the last week in March is a whole different story. Sales are up across the country. For all new vehicles, sales averaged an increase of 19 percent. Some states that were all but shut down, experienced huge increases. Obviously, if sales are off 40, 50, or 60 percent, it takes smaller numbers to create large percent increases, but it is a glimmer of hope.

Domestic manufacturers turned to robust incentives in late March, some with no payments for up to 120 days, and long-term contracts at 0% interest rates, which have boosted inquiries and resulted in sales. Import manufacturers followed soon after, and their sales have risen too, but not at the pace of domestics.

It’s too early to call this a trend or a bottom-of-the-trough, but it is welcome news.

People are shopping. They are moving themselves through the shopping process online, and when the phone rings or they venture out of their homes to arrive at your dealership, they are ready to buy. Having a digital platform where they can complete all, or nearly all, of the buying, F&I, and closing processes remotely is key.

Our CallerCX platform monitors calls for more than 1,200 dealerships across the nation. Even weeks into the pandemic, the No. 1 most frequent call is from consumers wanting to know if the dealership is open, closely followed by “Can I get my car serviced?” and then “What are you doing to protect my health and safety.” Dealers must make sure they update their Google My Business page to keep customers apprised of any changes at the dealership, new hours, etc. Also be sure to put your COVID-19 responses at your dealership on your website.

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