With stay-at-home orders lifting in certain parts of the country, some in the industry may expect to return to business as usual — at least from a sales perspective. But even as automotive retailers open shop and production resumes, some consumers will still be hesitant to move forward with a car purchase. Consumer sentiment and local market trends will be as critical to informing reopening strategies and resuming day-to-day operations as federal, state and local guidelines.
For instance, our research shows that across the country, dealers' sales are down significantly year over year; web traffic has also decreased over the same period. But as expected, some markets have been harder hit than others, while areas such as Missouri and Oklahoma have actually seen increases in sales.
We also instituted a survey of the general population to better understand shifting consumer sentiment as a result of the pandemic. As of May 20, only 18 percent of respondents were considering buying a new vehicle in the next few months. But that figure varied greatly by age demographic and region: The sentiment was shared by 24 percent of Generation Z, 24 percent of millennials, 22 percent of Generation X and 30 percent of those in urban areas.
Drilling further down, we saw that of those considering buying a new vehicle in the next few months, 61 percent expected to continue the purchase as planned, while 30 percent were considering buying something less expensive.
Keep in mind, consumer sentiment is based on circumstance. And as circumstances change in the coming weeks and months, these numbers will also shift.