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Subscription Training Boosts PRU

Market indicators are certainly trending up these days for retail automotive dealers. According to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, new-vehicle retail sales for May 2021 are expected to be the highest ever recorded for the month of May. Total new-vehicle sales for May 2021, including retail and non-retail transactions, are projected to reach 1,555,600 units, a 39.6% increase from May 2020. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) for total new-vehicle sales is expected to be 16.7 million units, up 4.7 million units from 2020.

Rising costs do not seem to be impacting consumers yet. While labor and inflationary concerns are capturing headlines and many people are just beginning to emerge from their pandemic bunkers, consumers are on track to spend $53.1 billion on new vehicles in May, the highest on record for any month. Total retailer profit per unit, inclusive of grosses and finance & insurance income, are on pace to reach an all-time high of $3,245, an increase of $1,678 from a year ago and the first time above $3,000 on record. Coupled with the strong retail sales pace, total aggregate retailer profits from new-vehicle sales will be $4.5 billion, the highest ever for the month of May and up an astounding 162% from May 2019.

The used vehicle market is also showing record numbers, with average trade-in values rising to $6,201, an increase of $3,229 (up 108.7 percent) from a year ago. According to the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, April delivered three straight months of records as wholesale car prices came in at 194.0, which beat year-ago figures by 54.3 percent and was nearly a 15-point jump from the prior record set a month before (179.2). The value for pick-up trucks alone jumped 77.9 percent!

Industry Trends

Chances Are You Need Inventory?

These days, retail automotive dealers are getting a refresher on supply and demand economics.

On the supply side, the pandemic-induced slow down put a crimp on the volume of new vehicles as factories shut down and parts suppliers faced significant shipping challenges. In April 2020, a record low 103,000 new vehicles were manufactured. By contrast, a little over 2 million vehicles were built in January 2021 and Edmunds forecasts that 15.5 million new cars will be sold in 2021, a 6.5 percent lift compared to last year. New vehicle manufacturing is clearly back on line, yet some glitches will remain as the supply of certain semiconductor chips and electronic components are still scarce.

On the demand side, new car prices are skyrocketing. In December 2020, the average transaction price for a new vehicle hit an all-time record high of $40,573. These rising prices are driving many people out of the new car market, forcing people to look elsewhere for a vehicle. The used vehicle market is also experiencing pricing challenges. According to the Manheim Used Car Index, Wholesale used vehicle prices (on a mix-, mileage-, and seasonally adjusted basis) increased 3.79 percent month-over-month in February. This brought the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index to 169.2, a 17.9 percent increase from a year ago and a record high for the Index. For high-demand vehicles such as SUVs and pickup trucks, the price jump is even higher.


On The Hunt For Talent

Good news! The retail automotive industry just notched the strongest March sales in 20 years! According to J.D. Power, first quarter retail sales climbed 26 percent, a 70.7 percent increase as compared to March 2020. A few other indicators climbed as well. The average price of a new vehicle rose to $37,314 in Q1, nearly $3,000 more than in 2020. Retail profits from new vehicles are also expected to reach record levels of $2,225 profit per unit, up $786 from 2020. Analysts at J.D. Power forecast that March will likely be the second most profitable month on record as total retail vehicle purchases trend towards a total of $48.0 billion.

These indicators clearly signal a positive trend for the first half of 2021. But there is a potential wrinkle. Will you have enough staff – and the right staff – to support those customers driving cars off the lot? People are a dealership’s greatest asset – and often its greatest challenge. In an EFG study conducted among retail dealers across the U.S., 65 percent of respondents said recruiting and hiring high-quality people was their number one challenge.

Every dealer and general manager has made a poor hiring decision in the past, and chalked it up to “we’ll do better next time.” But what did that decision cost you? Our research found that every Poor Hiring Decision® (P.H.D) cost the dealership $75,000!