Looking Up: September marks best Canadian auto sales since start of pandemic

Toronto, Ontario – According to a recent report by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, Canada’s auto sales this past September were 2.4 percent higher than the same period in 2019, marking this the best month for sales since the start of the pandemic.

A total of 169,876 light vehicles were sold in Canada in September—up from 166,488 the year prior, according to DesRosiers.

“Sales are climbing with September easily being the most impressive month we have had since the pandemic started,” according to Andrew King, managing partner of Desrosiers.

King believes last month’s sales marked a huge step forward for the industry, which saw a massive decline in sales during the initial lockdown.  However, he wonders if the sales momentum can keep up during a possible second wave of COVID-19.

Ford has been the leader this year in terms of car sales. The automaker has sold 190,000 of the 1.5 million units sold in 2020, while Kia sales reportedly rebounded over the summer. However, the report by DesRosiers shows total year-to-date sales down by 23.7 percent, compared with this time last year.

Scotiabank analysts Rebekah Young and Raffi Ghazarian released an auto sales forecast to clients this past Tuesday using data from August and September.

Any strength that came out of Labour Day weekend sales is likely to “normalize” in the months ahead, wrote Young and Ghazarian. The report noted that during the start of the pandemic, Canadians saved money, but then rushed out to spend some of their savings over the summer and “splurge.”

However, the report also states that with the second wave of COVID-19 cases inching closer, consumer buying habits will depend on whether renewed stay-at-home orders keep “the rubber from hitting the road.”

“Consumer intention surveys are pointing to a potentially new demand … as a result of the pandemic, including fears of using public transit and ridesharing services,” the reports conclude.

The report cited that a Sept. 15 survey by the Ontario Motor Vehicle Regulator indicated that 46 and 38 percent of new and used car shoppers did not test drive the vehicle before purchase during the pandemic.

Young and Ghazarian wrote in their report that this trend could mean that consumers are more flexible in the purchasing process than ever before.

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