WINNIPEG — It seems many Winnipeggers haven’t been enjoying that new car smell during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several auto dealers in Winnipeg are reporting a significant drop in sales, but they’re buckling up and hoping for a better summer sales season.
Gord Pederson has been flipping cars at the Auto Gallery of Winnipeg for nearly two decades. He’s seen a lot in his 18 years of owning the used car lot, but never anything that has effected car sales as much as COVID-19.
“For about a two month period we were down considerably in sales. Not just us, the entire automotive industry,” said Pederson.
The used car dealership had to lay off its employees temporarily, but now, with restrictions easing, things are looking up.
“We are down 44 per cent, probably closer to 50, but we are already coming back, but it’s going to be really tough for the new car industry to come back,” Pederson said.
Despite a row of brightly coloured mustangs boarding Portage Avenue, River City Ford has been much quieter than usual.
“We’ve seen a 50 per cent drop in sales. Different in service, but for vehicle sales, we are about 50 per cent,” said Kyle Forcier, general manager of the dealership.
Another worry for new car dealerships is actually getting stock. Although back up and running, production had been halted due to the pandemic.
For river city ford, it’s luckily not a problem.
“Sales are not at our normal level, so we have enough supply for what customers are coming in for right now,” said Forcier.
CUSTOMERS CHOOSING ECONOMY
According to Steve Chipman, the president of Birchwood Automotive Group, which operates many car dealerships in Winnipeg, customers that are buying cars, seem to be shopping for cheaper models.
“Some luxury brands are performing better than others. There was some hesitation in the luxury market in the month of April for sure. That was the biggest segment that was down,” said Chipman.
He guessed that the fluctuations in the stock market scared people from making larger purchases.
SALES TO BOUNCE BACK
After a rough few months, autos sales are trending back to normal. A welcome change for Pederson and the other dealerships.
“There’s been a lot of people sitting around for the last 10-12 weeks, and that creates a lot of need buyers. And they had nowhere to go comfortably, and now they have options,” said Pederson.
Dealerships have implemented many COVID-19 precautions such as sanitizing cars, creating modified test drives and offering home delivery.
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