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Survey: Car Buyers’ Concerns Lessen

Shoppers still delaying purchases, but long-term plans look better

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First the good news: Fewer vehicle shoppers plan to delay purchases now than at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in April, according to a June survey conducted by CarGurus, the online vehicle site.

The bad news? Nearly seven in 10 respondents in the June survey aren’t ready to buy yet. This compares with 79% in CarGuru’s April survey who said they would wait longer than they previously planned to purchase a vehicle.

However, only 2% of those queried in the most recent study characterized the delay as indefinite (a year or longer). This is down from 8% in April. And 70% now say they are actively researching vehicles for future purchases.

Affordability

Not surprisingly, a big part of the hesitancy stems from financial concerns—i.e., will people be gainfully employed.

Among the findings in the June survey:

  • 48% of car shoppers are less confident in their ability to afford a vehicle purchase as a result of COVID-19.
  • One-third of those considering financing lost confidence in their ability to get approved and the financing rate they’d expect (34%).
  • 35% of respondents say they’re saving more than usual vs. 16% who are spending more.
  • 42% agree the pandemic will cause them to be more careful about money management going forward.

On the plus side (for the auto industry at least), 33% respondents expect to use their personal car more going forward than before the pandemic. Conversely, about two-in-five who previously used ride-sharing and public transportation planned to decrease—or stop entirely—using such services.

Subject to Change

In the latest survey, CarGurus polled 779 prospective vehicle shoppers in June.

That was before the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in many states. At the same time, unemployment rates continue to remain high across the nation.

As a result, the findings in the next survey may be significantly different.