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 that’s been done 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 2,000 car buyers 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.
After a summer of what seemed to be a recovery and return towards normalcy, England joins Wales in a second Covid-19 lockdown this week. While many dealers have demonstrated remarkable resilience and flexibility in their marketing and retailing tactics, we understand that a renewed lockdown will create a challenge even for dealers who can continue some operations, such as “click and collect” or other methods allowed by the Government restrictions.
To continue our support for all of our customers, we announced the following changes:
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 more 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:
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 the UK. In fact, more than a third (34%) of those surveyed said they expect to use their car more going forward than before the pandemic.
In the near-term, 38% of respondents say they see their car as an escape or for fun. Additionally, 42% say they expect to use their car for more road trips or longer drives, while 66% of those planning to travel this year say they intend to drive, rather than fly, for at least one trip.
As a follow-up to the Consumer Sentiment Study we presented in April, CarGurus surveyed an additional 1,104 buyers 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.
It was a strong start to “opening week” for dealers in Scotland, as dealers there opened their doors for the first time since the Covid-19 shutdown on June 29. Leads to dealers in Scotland were trending up on CarGurus leading up to reopening, and were up 14% (indexed) week-on-week on opening day—their highest point since the shutdown began. Many dealers in Scotland and around the UK have adopted contactless services to continue to serve customers safely this summer.
As the UK reopens and pent-up demand floods the market, June car sales are likely seeing a lift. This type of spike tends to be short term, but rumors of an economic stimulus programme or vehicle scrappage scheme could result in a lift that carries into July or August. It’s the possible lack of supply that could temper car sales in the near future.
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 lockdown has hit the automotive industry hard. UK dealerships were closed for just over two months in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Typically, hundreds of thousands of used and new vehicles would have been sold during this time period.
Instead, what we’ve seen is the creation of pent-up demand from consumers who wanted to purchase a vehicle but could not do so in March and April. However, although UK leads submitted to dealers hit a low in March and fluctuate day to day, they’ve been on the rise overall ever since. This lift in leads tallies with the results of our COVID-19 Sentiment Study, which found that 87% of respondents expect to purchase a car later than they initially planned. Even more significant, only 4% of those planning to buy this year have delayed their plans indefinitely. In other words, sales will still happen this year—just a bit later than expected.