Thursday, 16 April 2020 21:53

Used-Car Sales: Tracking the Good, the Bad & the Options

Written by Joe Overby, Auto Remarketing


Based on auto industry analyses, a rough March for used-vehicle sales appears to have spilled over into April, and as PureCars says in its latest COVID-19 report, dealers are “facing obvious headwinds” in pre-owned.

But, some silver linings: the dive in used- and new-car sales appear to have hit its trough, according to Cox Automotive. And there are dealers who are realizing “some success” with strategies to shore up their used-car sales, as PureCars outlines in its report.


First outlining the challenges, PureCars said in the report, “Aggressive APR offers mean used payments can be higher than new, RO data suggests shoppers are fixing versus trading up or out, auction prices continue to fall and wholesale markets have all but stopped operating as a way to dispose of depreciating used assets.”


But there are some remedies dealers are finding that work. PureCars emphasizes some used-vehicle shoppers “are sitting on the sidelines,” so “aggressive” strategies in pre-owned might not be the best course at the moment.


“However, some dealers are gamblers and we’ve seen some success with the following tactics; low-funnel search awareness, social budget reallocations to move ‘up funnel’ to reach broader in-market shoppers to take advantage of falling CPM rates, overlay ORACLE dataset to hyper-target local in-market audiences, aggressively (re)pricing vehicles to drive intent and piggy-backing on OEM CPO program benefits where available,” PureCars said.


Here's how the numbers have shaken out recently in pre-owned.


Franchised dealers had a 24% drop in used-car retail sales the week ending April 5, according to J.D. Power Valuation Services, following 32% sequential and nearly 40% year-over-year declines in March.


Of the 25 states that provide vehicle sales data to Cross-Sell Interactive (part of Dominion Dealer Solutions), only one shown in a state-by-state comparison graph---North Dakota, which was up 10%---showed year-over-year growth in combined new- and used-vehicle sales in March. 


The heaviest decline shown in Cross-Sell's data set was in Missouri, where combined new and used sales were down 52%. New York was next at 46%.

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