Auto sales in February were steady due to increased incentives and strong mid-sized SUV sales; however, severe weather conditions across the country diminished the impact of increasingly favorable market conditions.
“Year-to-date sales are tracking below expectations, but the good news is that the sales postponed due to weather are still on the way,” said Jesse Toprak, Cars.com chief analyst. “Shoppers haven’t been able to get to the dealership this winter, but that hasn’t stopped them from researching their upcoming purchase online. Cars.com saw nearly 30 million visits in January, an all-time high, indicating that consumers will be out in force once the weather breaks.”
With spring on its way and tax season in full-swing, dealers across the country can be optimistic about forthcoming March and April sales, which will likely be bolstered by continued manufacturer incentives. Toprak predicts that though incentives will remain high, they’ll be better-targeted to facilitate inventory turn than in the past.
“Optimized OEM incentives will help mitigate the negatives of inventory build-up,” said Toprak. “And though there may be competition between stores at a local level, we don’t expect the type of sweeping incentives that might devalue the product; dealers will still be able to sell the car, not the deal.”
As consumers head to dealerships looking for spring deals, dealers would be wise to place special emphasis on educating their sales teams about the most up-to-date automaker and dealership incentives, as well promoting incentives consistently throughout all of their marketing channels. On Cars.com, dealers can promote their incentives in several ways, including in vehicle seller’s notes, with inventory-wide batch taglines and with targeted Special Offers.
“The way the calendar falls this month will definitely help too,” shared Toprak. “With five selling weekends, March is going to be great for sales.”
For a full breakdown of February’s best-selling vehicles, head over to the Cars.com KickingTires blog.
How are you preparing for spring sales? Share your tips in the comments section below.