Automakers are headed for a less-drastic U.S. sales collapse than feared, helped by online sales, 0 percent financing and other incentives, according to market researchers.
U.S. retail sales are down about 50 percent, a drop-off that wouldn’t be as steep as China or Western European countries saw in the first full month following their coronavirus outbreaks, according to Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting with LMC Automotive, a partner of J.D. Power.
“We’re now expecting a pattern that is more of a sustained level of a 40 percent to 50 percent decline over a longer period of time, instead of the really deep hit and then a relatively quick recovery,” Schuster said by phone.
The industry caught a break last week when Department of Homeland Security guidelines added vehicle sales to its list of essential services. All U.S. states now allow cars and light trucks to be delivered through showrooms or online, according to J.D. Power.
Retail sales fell about 48 percent last week from J.D. Power’s pre-crisis forecasts, after dropping 51 percent the week that ended April 12 and 55 percent the week prior. That marks three straight weeks of improvement from the 59 percent decline registered the last full week of March.