Created on Friday, 10 December 2010
News organizations are busy reporting on the flow of traffic into retail stores this holiday season. Often overlooked, during the busiest time of the year for most retailers, are new vehicle sales.
Traditionally, in the retail car business, sales tend to slow down during the Christmas season unless stimulated by added incentives. This year is shaping up to be no exception. The ads in today's Wheels section illustrate the multitude of incentives on a wide variety of makes and models that are available for immediate delivery.
Twenty years ago, the holiday season was a time of limited activity for car sales. December sales for the industry were dismal, to say the least. "Boxing Day Sales" were a long-established and a popular retail strategy, common in other businesses, but foreign to ours.
So, a few manufacturers —with limited dealer support, at first — opted to introduce Boxing Day incentives in order to stimulate the market.
The strategy worked. Car buyers took advantage of the one-day Boxing Day sales events. The practice continued in subsequent years with other manufacturers following suit and within a few years, most automakers were rolling out aggressive holiday discounts on new vehicles.
The Boxing Day sale concept was so successful for the industry that manufacturers and dealers began extending their promotions for an entire week, and eventually for the entire month and beyond.
Some now begin their holiday promotions in late-November and continue until mid-January. The one-day Boxing Day sale has morphed into an entire selling season!
Is this season the best time to buy a new vehicle? There is no doublt that some pricing incentives (low interest/lease rates, cash credits, factory rebates, etc.) are often more favourable to the consumer during the Christmas/New Year season than at other times of the year.
In November and December, automakers and dealers are usually eager to sell remaining inventory from the previous model year. Excess inventory of a particular model enables the consumer to take advantage of that fact, when finalizing the price of a new vehicle.
Often buyers are motivated to buy a car during the holidays for reasons other than manufacturer incentives. There's an old maxim that salespeople and managers are more prone to deal-making at the end of the month, or at the end of the calendar year, because of their eagerness to meet monthly or yearly sales targets (thus earning sales bonuses and bragging rights).
If you are considering a new vehicle in the near future, I would research the various offers available now. Gather as much information as possible and produce a personal short list of new makes and models. Check your budget, and calculate what it's going to cost to carry the vehicle each month (if you are financing or leasing it, as opposed to paying cash), gas, maintenance, insurance costs, etc.
If you want the best selection especially for previous year models, start visiting showrooms now.
Finding the time to do all this during the holiday season may be difficult. Remember, a new vehicle is a major purchase and substantial savings can be enjoyed by purchasing now. Most dealers will try to accommodate a request to deliver the new car as a family gift, just in time for Christmas or New Year's enjoyment.
Don't put off buying that new car until the spring, waiting for better incentives. If you're shopping for a car this holiday season, there are some very aggressive offers on the table that are available now.
A new car is a gift that the entire family will enjoy for many years. And it's one that likely will be long remembered by all of them.