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Study shows many car buyers have returned to pre-pandemic shopping habits

CarGurus announced the release of its 2022 Consumer Insights Report on Wednesday, and this year’s report includes not only buyer insights but seller insights as well.

This edition is the fifth anniversary of the report from CarGurus, which is the number one visited digital auto platform for shopping, buying, and selling new and used vehicles. The report examines trends related to people’s decisions to buy or sell, decisions they make during the process, and where they eventually go to complete transactions.

The report also looks at trends involving electric vehicle and hybrid sales and the sentiments of buyers and sellers after completing a purchase or sale.

Alexandra Howerter, the Senior Consumer Insights Analyst at CarGurus, said many shoppers have returned to “post-pandemic habits,” like unannounced walk-in visits, but mentioned that many customers are embracing at least some aspects of digital retail models.

“With access to online Finance and Insurance (F&I) and instant cash offers at their fingertips, these shoppers arrive more ready-to-buy when they do visit the dealership,” Howerter said.

The report shows that walk-in visits have returned after virtually disappearing last year. Still, many buyers continue using online outreach methods as the first form of contact, and interest in digital retail products has increased.

Results also show that while 59% of buyers are open to the idea of buying online, a greater percentage are interested in a hybrid approach that combines a digital and in-store experience. 70% of buyers would prefer to shop from home, and 56% would like to finance online. Buyer satisfaction remains strong, even when faced with higher prices.

As for sellers, key takeaways include dealerships remaining the most common resale channel, especially for sellers trading in a vehicle. 68% of sellers looking to trade up negotiated using an online offer, and a comparable percentage said that doing so was very effective.

However, 80% of sellers would be open to selling their vehicles online, and the report found that sellers who do complete online transactions are the most satisfied with the results.

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