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Cox Automotive COVID-19 Research: Pandemic Concerns Wane, Displaced by Politics

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Article Highlights

  1. Consumer concern over COVID-19 continues to decline.
  2. As the presidential election approaches, it's occupying more mindshare with both consumers and dealers.
  3. Uncertainty around COVID-19 continues to drive financial concern for many consumers and has amplified the need to evolve for some dealers.

Despite rising COVID-19 cases in many states, concerns about the pandemic seem to be waning and, in many cases, are being replaced by concern over the upcoming presidential election. Among U.S. automobile dealers, 43% believe COVID-19 and the upcoming election are both equally concerning, according to a study released today by the Cox Automotive Research & Market Intelligence team.

Pandemic concern peaked in the second quarter and has been moving steadily downward since summer. Still, with 61% of consumers extremely or very concerned about COVID-19, the pandemic and resulting economic struggles continue to weigh heavily on the vehicle market. The most recent data from Cox Automotive indicates the percent of consumers in market for a new vehicle, at 14%, has dropped to the lowest level in 2020.  

“COVID-19: Tracking U.S. Consumer and Automotive Dealer Sentiment” is ongoing research from Cox Automotive designed to shed light on consumer and dealer attitudes and behaviors during the pandemic. The research began in late March and has been updated regularly through mid-October. Key takeaways from the latest report include:

  1. Consumer concern over COVID-19 continues to decline. Concern over the pandemic peaked in April, with 71% of consumers extremely/very concerned. After dropping through the summer, consumer concern now stands at a still-high 61%. Financial concerns persist for many consumers as well, resulting in fewer shoppers in market. The auto market rebound that dealers were experiencing this summer has stalled.
  2. As the presidential election approaches, it’s occupying more mindshare with both consumers and dealers. Among auto dealers, 43% believe COVID-19 and the upcoming election are both equally concerning. In no great surprise, consumers are mostly split on how the outcome will impact them personally. Dealers are more definitive, with a larger percentage expecting better financial performance should the current administration prevail in the election.
  3. Uncertainty around COVID-19 continues to drive financial concern for many consumers and has amplified the need to evolve for some dealers. The prospect of another year like 2020 has consumers concerned for their financial stability, with 1 in 5 depleting their savings in 2021 should the pandemic continue. For dealers, it’s clear they are more open to considering new ways of doing business than ever before. Three out of four dealers are now conducting some of their business beyond their dealerships, embracing digital retail and service pick-up and delivery activities.

For more information, contact a member of the Cox Automotive PR team.

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