COVID-19 has Reshaped Car Shopping

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TORONTO – BUSINESS – “Our most recent COVID-19 consumer sentiment study has shown that the pandemic has reshaped transportation and car-shopping for the foreseeable future,” said Madison Gross, Director of Consumer Insights at CarGurus. “As consumers continue to steer clear of shared mobility and turn to purchasing their own vehicle instead, they are interested in the ease of digital retail, with more people hoping to complete part of the car-buying process at home.”

CarGurus, Inc. (Nasdaq: CARG), a multinational, online automotive platform for buying and selling vehicles, today released its most recent COVID-19 sentiment study that examines both short- and long-term trends of how auto shoppers have reacted to the pandemic. This research is the latest iteration in a series of previous CarGurus studies that were run in April, June, and November of 2020, and it explores topics like digital retail, vehicle inventory, and shared mobility.

The study’s major findings include:

Long-term trends

  • Shared mobility continues to decline: During the pandemic, demand for shared transportation halted – and consumers aren’t eager to return. Only half (50%) of consumers who previously used ride-share services expect to return to their pre-pandemic activity in the next year, and few more (+3ppt) plan to in the long term.
  • Shoppers are more interested in digital retail: Consumers are more interested than ever in shopping for cars online. 63% of recent buyers say they’d prefer to do more of the car-buying process at home for their next vehicle purchase.
  • Consumers’ expectations will stay high: With dealers having adapted to the pandemic through offering various contactless services, consumers hope that these changes will stay. Shoppers are most interested in pre-scheduled dealership appointments (%), solo test drives (37%), test drive at home (27%), and at-home delivery (25%).

Short-term trends

  • Demand has rebounded following dips early in the pandemic: Due to decreased spending during lockdowns, buying confidence has recovered. Major life changes like moving to a new house (33%), getting a new job (26%), and working from home (22%) have also made people more interested in buying a car this year.
  • In-person shopping returns cautiously: Consumers are much more comfortable shopping in-store this year, but they are still wanting a safe experience with the majority (59%) expecting dealers to continue wearing masks.
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