March vehicle movement dropped -30% but April sales will increase.
Nationally, March was on track to have a normal month until coronavirus cases began increasing across the country. Executive orders began to close showrooms and people were told to stay at home. As a result, sales and shopping activity slowed dramatically. To combat shrinking sales, OEMs started offering new incentives to rally consumers. Some executive orders were adjusted to include online sales or allowed showrooms to remain open entirely by considering them essential. By the end of March, sales lost -30% and shopping only lost -2%.
States like Michigan, whose showrooms were closed down entirely, saw a decrease of -94% YOY in moved vehicles. While Wyoming showrooms remained open (except for a few counties) and gained +65% YOY in moved vehicles.
By the end of March, national shopping activity showed an increase of +6%, but the week over week numbers told a different story.
Shopping activity in March didn’t follow the same downward trend as vehicle movement. It held steady with the typical wave of a normal shopping month. When vehicle movement started to fall on March 18th, shopping decreased slightly, then rebounded.
As the second week of April ended, we saw vehicle movement and shopping activity continue downward. Shopping traffic dropped to -14% and vehicle movement went down – 42% year over year.
Source: Moved Vehicle Summary, ZeroSum Data Warehouse, select markets March 2020
Closed showrooms could be harming online shopping activity.
As brands across the board are experiencing ups and downs from the COVID-19 pandemic, so were states across the nation. The data showed there was a connection between showrooms being closed and reduction of shopping activity. For instance, almost all of the north-east was locked down and online shopping activity took a big hit. On the flip-side, the south-east states weren’t as locked down by statewide executive orders and saw increased activity.
What will the Automotive Industry look like in April?
The effects of the March COVID-19 pandemic have drastically changed the way business is conducted in America. We’ve been following these developments around COVID-19 and how it relates to the automotive industry since the beginning of March. As coronavirus hot spots change around the nation, ZeroSum is investigating those market changes on a daily basis to understand this changing landscape. The coronavirus is expected to reach a plateau over the next couple weeks (in several states) as April ends. We’ve already seen sales and shopping take a turn upward as many states revise their executive orders to allow sales (in varying degrees).