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We checked in with car shoppers on during the month of July, to get an update on their intentions towards purchasing a vehicle and the information sources most commonly used throughout the car buying journey. Through surveying over 300 Canadian car shoppers, we found that as the effects of the pandemic have been diminishing across the country, consumer attitudes towards purchasing a car have improved.

Prior to the pandemic, 23% of consumers surveyed had intentions to purchase a vehicle. Towards the end of May 2020, we saw the lowest point in purchase intent, where this number decreased to 15%. Looking at consumer intentions in July 2020, we see this data point uptick to 18%, a trend in the right direction.

The estimated duration of the vehicle purchase process has improved significantly over the past few months, as, generally, consumers state that vehicle purchase timelines have decreased. At the start of the pandemic, 72% of consumers said their vehicle purchase timelines would be extended. Our latest findings show that this number has decreased by 27 points, where 45% now claim it will take longer than anticipated to make their purchase.

Consumers that were considering delaying their purchase has also improved, with only 42% of respondents expecting to delay their purchase, down from 68% at the start of the pandemic. Those who stated that nothing would delay them in buying a vehicle has doubled, from 6% to 13% in the latest wave of research.

The use of automotive marketplaces within the car buying journey has remained steady throughout the duration of the pandemic. Of those surveyed, 61% of used car shoppers rank online automotive marketplaces as their top information source. Used car shoppers are continuing to use dealership websites (46%) and manufacturer websites (41%) during their car shopping journey.

Looking at the triggers that initiate a vehicle purchase has remained the same throughout this entire time period. The top three reasons being their vehicle is getting too old, they want to upgrade to something newer/nicer, or, are in need of a larger vehicle. Keep these factors in mind as you unearth more about your customers’ needs and help situate them with a vehicle that aligns to their desires and expectations.

From the perspective of consumer feelings towards the pandemic, and whether they believe the situation is improving or worsening, we’re seeing a significant improvement. In March 2020, 66% of consumers stated that they were very concerned about COVID-19. As we have moved through the thick of it and have witnessed more of the country re-open, this number dipped to 43% in July 2020.

From these results we can conclude that shoppers are continuing to demonstrate an uptick in their intention to purchase a vehicle. They continue to rely heavily on online sources to do the bulk of their research throughout their purchase process. Based on these results, along with the unrelenting increases to quality traffic on the marketplace we have experienced month-over-month, dealers should feel confident in their strategic investments to attract consumers to their virtual and physical lots.