As Ontario’s economy gradually eases into normalcy after months of disruption, it’s clear—as evidenced by the results of a recent survey by Ontario’s Vehicle Sales Regulator, OMVIC—the province’s auto retail sector has been significantly impacted and recovery will be a long process.
In June, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) developed and conducted a survey of dealers and salespeople—this was done in consultation with several industry stakeholders. The survey focused on the impact of COVID-19 on automotive retailers. Some 5,000 registrants responded and provided valuable insights into the outlook of the industry.
“Vehicle sales across Canada fell 48 per cent in March compared to the same period last year, and dealerships in Ontario were not immune to the fallout from COVID-19,” noted John Carmichael, OMVIC’s CEO/Registrar. “Sixty per cent of dealers OMVIC surveyed said they saw sales drop to as much as 51 per cent between April 1 to May 30, and that to me, paints a grim picture.”
OMVIC’s survey results show the two main drivers that can help revive the used car sector in the coming weeks will be improved consumer confidence, and the availability of low-interest rates and easy options for consumers.
Even though dealerships in the province are authorized to open, many are operating on reduced hours and some have closed operations completely. Implementing additional safety guidelines such as PPE, extensive cleaning, making repairs to their showrooms, etc., has placed additional stress on the businesses’ bottom line.
“The survey shows that our registrants are appreciative of the various programs offered by provincial and federal governments,” Carmichael said. Interestingly, dealers and salespersons indicated that measures such as deferral of property taxes, rent relief, financial assistance relating to utilities, interest-free loans and other economic recovery options may be useful in the months ahead during the recovery phase.