Regional COVID-19 automotive consumer trends and what they mean for your dealership

Sep 17, 2020
The Autotrader Team

Well, folks, it has been six months since the world came to a grinding halt due to COVID-19. Everyone from the East Coast to the West worked on flattening the curve starting in March, but today’s data on automotive consumer trends tells a story that varies significantly from region to region. Let’s break down Cox Automotive’s most recent update of the COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study to find key takeaways about sales, service and intent to sell in your region.

What does the latest regional car shopping data reveal about consumers’ intentions for buying, selling and servicing vehicles during coronavirus and beyond?

Let’s start with how consumers are feeling. Check out the chart below to find out how consumers’ reported concern about coronavirus has changed over time and where it stands today.1

In every region, a strong majority of polled consumers are still extremely or very concerned about the virus. And in the West, concern has actually increased in recent weeks. So, what does that mean for vehicle sales and service in your area?

There’s no expiration date on touchless sales and service.

Over the last six months, dealerships across the country have turned challenges into huge progress for the automotive industry by implementing “touchless” sales and service options to keep business moving. 65% of shoppers want to do more of the purchase online compared to the last time they purchased a vehicle. And most franchise and many independent dealerships are continuing to prioritize virtual, touchless offerings. Is yours?

As Kevin LeSage discussed in his post Now and beyond COVID-19: At-home vehicle shopping, sales and service, the changes dealerships have made to meet the challenge of serving customers and keeping sales moving during a crazy time aren’t just stop-gap measures. They’re crucial steps for continued success in our increasingly digital world. Consumers aren’t going to move backwards, and neither can our industry.

Offering service pickup and delivery has become a necessity, not a luxury.

More than 3 in 4 non-luxury shoppers and 84% of luxury shoppers say they would select a dealership service center based on the availability of service pickup and delivery options. Those are huge numbers and a competitive advantage you don’t want to miss out on. And by the way, 48% of vehicle owners surveyed said they’d be likely to pay $20 for service pick-up and delivery.​2

If you’d like tips for getting started with service pickup and delivery or for making the most of it, check out our Tips for using valet service and repair to drive fixed ops revenue blog post.

Need used vehicle inventory? In some regions, more than 20% of consumers are likely to reduce the number of vehicles in their households.

We all know that getting the right vehicle inventory for the right price has been an enormous challenge over the last several months. Recent data from Cox Automotive’s consumer study shows that local consumers may be an ideal source for the used-vehicle inventory you need. Check out the numbers for your region. Then head over to Jade Terreberry’s recent post Creating demand: How to drive car sales and get more used-vehicle inventory for tips and ideas.

Knowledge is power. Let’s put it to work.

The dealerships that gain ground during and after the pandemic will be the ones who use the latest data (their own dealership data and information like these automotive consumer trends from Cox Automotive) to inform decisions and who take their new practices and services into the future, coronavirus or not.

We’re here to help you do it. To ensure that you don’t miss any updates, subscribe to the blog below. Also, check out Cox Automotive’s resource hub featuring data, insights and best practices for today’s market, The Way Forward. And remember, your local Dealer Success Consultant is always ready to talk strategy.


1 Source of all statistics presented in this post, unless otherwise noted: 2020 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study

2Consumer question from 2020 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study: “In the near future, how likely would you be to pay [$20/$40] for the option to have a dealership pick up your vehicle at your home, take it in for service/maintenance, then deliver it back to your home?”