ATLANTA — Despite a strong September, Columbus Day weekend car-shopping activity was down this year, according to new data from Dealer.com and Dealertrack (divs. Cox Automotive). Analysts reported a 5% decrease in dealership visits and a 3% drop in dealer website visits when compared with traffic from the six prior weekends.
The decrease can in part be blamed on a particularly brutal hurricane season, but it was indicative of an overall trend toward underperforming three-day holiday weekends, according to James Grace Sr., director of product analytics at Cox Automotive Media Solutions Group.
“While stormy weather from Irma and Nate could be a factor, in terms of Dealer.com shopper activity and Dealertrack credit applications, what we believe we’re seeing is a further dampening of already depressed demand due to post-peak cycle,” Grace told Auto Dealer Today. “But taken with strong September sales, this likely indicates a fiercely competitive Q4, as dealers shift gears to the final sales of the year.”
Dealer.com, which operates 62% of U.S. franchise dealership websites, and Dealertrack, a leading F&I solutions provider with more than 22,000 North American dealers and 7,500 lender partners, found the following:
- This Columbus Day weekend was lower than the six-week average in terms of Dealertrack’s total credit apps and unique apps. Only Columbus Day itself (Monday) was greater than the average. The other days were all below the average.
- Dealer.com’s DataView saw a 5% drop in visits and a 1% drop in vehicle views over Columbus Day weekend compared with the six prior weekends.
- Labor Day weekend also saw a 3% drop in Dealer.com dealership website visits and a very slight (0.25%) bump in vehicle views.
The Labor Day and Columbus Day weekends also fell short when compared with long-weekend holidays earlier in the year. Dealer.com reported single- and double-digit increases in car-shopping activity during the Presidents Day and Memorial Day weekends, respectively.
“The downward trend during holiday weekends versus other weekends means dealers need to hone in on a couple of items: No. 1 is to focus on quality versus quantity, specifically direct engagement with shoppers who are most likely to buy. No. 2 is to ensure marketing efforts are consistent and competitive to capture and not miss out on existing demand,” Grace said. “What you do every day is more important than what you do over holiday weekends.”