The pandemic has accelerated the shift to online car shopping: survey

Oct 26 2020, 8:36 am

Consumer needs and habits have changed drastically since the pandemic hit.

When it comes to buying a new or used vehicle, COVID-19 has created an entirely new set of forward-thinking shoppers.

This was one of the findings of a BrandSpark study conducted by Kijiji Autos, which surveyed 2,000 car buying customers and 251 car dealers. The study compared trends among those looking to buy a vehicle and those who specialize in selling them. 

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It found that the need for self-isolation has created new challenges. Of the surveyed shoppers looking to purchase a car within six months, half of them said they didn’t feel safe on public transit, while 26% said they would no longer feel safe carpooling. One-quarter of consumers expressed similar concerns when it comes to using various rideshare services. 

Although many Canadians were stuck in their homes, 58%  said they still depended on a reliable and safe way to get around. Ultimately, one-in-10 Canadians said the pandemic  motivated them to buy or lease a vehicle.

Luckily for them, car buying is easier than ever, says James Macintosh from Downtown Hyundai. He’s also noticed a shift in the kinds of vehicles people are purchasing towards more practical and utility-based body types, like hatchbacks and small SUVs.

“I think that people are looking to maximize the options for their vehicle these days so that one vehicle can do many things easily. In general people are starting to look for more little luxury type features than ever before.”

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The last eight months gave Canadians new reasons to buy a car, but this period also led some to delay making a purchase. Canadian shoppers’ outlook on the economy has dropped slightly since the pandemic started, going from a 31% positive outlook in February 2020 to 25% in August 2020. Twenty-one percent of Canadians said the current economic situation had an impact on the amount they were willing to spend.

Online car shopping has been a slowly growing trend due to shoppers realizing how easy it can be. “It is truly possible to purchase a vehicle online and have it delivered to your door.” says Macintosh. 

But the traditional trip to the car dealership to sit in some new cars, smell the new car smell, and ask a few questions comes with more challenges.

For every issue, dealers are also adapting and making the experience as easy as possible. Some dealers will even arrange at-home test drives to make it easier to consider their vehicles.

“I do recommend that you test drive the car first though always. Just because everything looks great online does not always equal the perfect car for you,” Macintosh adds.

Per the Kijiji Autos BrandSpark study, 25% of Canadians stated the pandemic impacted the way they conducted their vehicle research. In February 2020, 56% of Canadians said they were conducting a lot of research, and that number rose to 61% by August. When they’re ready to purchase a new or used car, Canadians are showing up more prepared than before.

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“The internet these days has made the process much more transparent than ever before. Look at the price online and compare it to the market out there,” Macintosh shares. “Check the online reviews of the dealership and always ask for a CARFAX report to make sure you know the history of the car.”

Whether you’re a novice car shopper or a confident car enthusiast, online classifieds like Kijiji Autos are a great place to start to make informed and practical decisions.

Visit Kijiji Autos to start your car shopping journey, whether you simply want to start your research or you know exactly what you’re looking for. In the meantime, this Kijiji Auto video features an expert giving trusted advice on how to confidently buy a car from a dealer.  For new or used vehicles, Kijiji Autos is a trusted source in an uncertain time.

This content was created by Hive Labs in partnership with a sponsor
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