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Since our last COVID-19 Pulse update in the first half of this year, we’ve witnessed the easement of many local and provincial government restrictions across the country, coupled with widespread vaccine rollout and more effective therapeutics, resulting in a highly anticipated return to a pre-pandemic way of life. As a result of these improvements, it should come as no surprise that the pandemic is currently lessening its initial impact on any delay in consumerism as it relates to vehicle purchase intentions.

In October 2021 we turned to in market Canadian car shoppers to refresh our understanding of how their purchase behaviour has shaped up or shifted over the year. Staying relatively in line with our previous observations, 18% of consumers intend to purchase a vehicle at some point within the next 6 months. At the start of the pandemic, 72% of shoppers said that they would take more time than usual to make their vehicle purchase, whereas today this has dramatically decreased to 36%. In this latest round of consumer research, 61% of respondents said that COVID-19 will not affect their time to purchase their next car.

When querying used car shoppers about the type of information sources they tapped in to research their next vehicle, we saw consistency with previous research waves. Automotive marketplaces remain the top source at 59%, dealership websites sit at 38% and 34% of shoppers use manufacturer websites. Of those consumers looking to purchase a vehicle, 21% say they want to upgrade to something nicer, 20% identifying that their current vehicle is getting too old, and 5% wanting to move to something larger.

The consideration of delaying the purchase of a vehicle due to COVID-19 continues to trend in the right direction. Of those surveyed in the latest wave, only 35% said they may consider delaying their purchase, a decrease of thirty-three points compared to what our consumer research showed at the onset of the pandemic. We also saw a downward trend in car shoppers who reported being concerned about affordability due to COVID-19. In our study from earlier this year, 37% were worried about affordability, whereas now this metric had improved to 31%.

Following along this trend, it should come as no surprise to see 55% of respondents perceiving COVID-19 as improving, while 15% see the situation as worsening a little and only 6% say it’s worsening a lot; at the beginning of the pandemic, 78% of consumers saw the situation as worsening. There is a growing number of consumers, (24%), who are less concerned about COVID-19; previously reported at 6% at the onset of the pandemic. Similarly, the amount of people who are very concerned has halved since March 2020.

When asked about their financial position, nearly half of the purchase intenders said that they have been able to save as a result of COVID-19 (48%). This has resulted in 63% of consumers who plan to use their extra savings to purchase a vehicle. Of the cohort that intends to use these savings towards the purchase of a car, 42% did not intend to purchase prior to the pandemic but are now able to do so with the money they have saved. What comes as even more promising is that 34% of those shoppers who plan to use their extra savings towards a vehicle, now plan to buy a more expensive vehicle because of their additional savings.

As the year nears its end, with these findings in mind, we can feel confident that car shopper sentiment towards purchasing a vehicle will remain strong into the new year. We’ve witnessed sustained consumer activity on throughout 2021, which translates into an abundance of car shoppers in market and plentiful opportunity for our dealer partners from coast-to-coast.