Columbus Day shopping activity takes a downturn this year

CARY, N.C. - 

Columbus Day Weekend car shopping activity was down this year, according to new data from Cox Automotive brands Dealer.com and Dealertrack.

“Normally we see an increase in shopping behavior on holiday weekends, but on Columbus Day we saw a decrease,” Cox Automotive product analytics senior director James Grace said in a phone interview with AuSM. “Last year we saw a similar trend for Columbus Day in terms of being down, but not as much as this year.”

This Columbus Day weekend, Dealer.com’s DataView saw a 5-percent drop in visits and a 1-percent drop in vehicle views compared to the six prior weekends, while Presidents Day and Memorial Day saw shopping activity go up by single and double digits, respectively, on Dealer.com dealership websites this year.

Grace said, “I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. It’s difficult for me to parse out how much percentage credit to give to all the factors, but first of all I think the hurricane and fires are definitely impacting those areas affected.”

As the end of the year approaches, the industry has struggled to create additional demand, according to Grace.

“We’re seeing OEMs continue to put a lot of incentive money out there. Inventories in terms of dates and supply are still quite high, so I think there’s been a pretty consistent push for serval months on getting additional demand out there.”

Grace suggests that the time of year is a key factor when it comes to car buyers shopping activity in October because consumers don’t typically see it as a car shopping holiday when faced with other expenses this time of year.

“With everyone going back to school at the end of the summer and families kind of adjusting to that period, there’s definitely some new expenses that come in during this time of year," Grace said. 

For the next Columbus Day weekend, Grace said local dealers can capitalize on the holiday by mirroring OEM advertising.

“When there’s an OEM or franchise dealer doing an advertising campaign, a lot of times its really wise for local dealers to sort of do their own advertising at the same time and sort of draft off of that larger national spend that’s going on," he said. “In this case, dealers are really going to have to focus on every sale, every opportunity, really measuring the quality of their efforts to finish the year out strong.”

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