SHANGHAI — Visiting dealerships in China these days, you can't help feeling a sense of euphoria.
Even as COVID cases in the United States rise again, China's automotive retail market is showing every indication that it is returning to a pre-pandemic reality.
Take the cluster of dealerships on Wuzhong Road in southwest Shanghai.
In February, immediately after the coronavirus spread from Wuhan to the rest of China, dealership employees donned face masks, even though there was virtually no showroom traffic.
Now, eight months later, several salesmen at the row's BMW dealership could be found last week out for an afternoon break, smoking and laughing — and most notably, not wearing face masks.
Salespeople at the nearby Toyota store could be seen chatting merrily. They had good reason. Because of robust sales, the dealership has run out of inventory, said Zhang Feng, a sales consultant.
"A customer has to wait for three months after placing an order for large crossovers like the RAV4, and about one month for other Toyota models," he said.