When we last spoke to NJ CAR president Jim Appleton in April, New Jersey was in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown. All vehicle sales were done remotely, all delivery was contactless, and there was an 80 percent drop in vehicle sales state-wide. As April came to a close, sales were down 50 percent but continued to steadily rise. Sales really started to pick back up in June and July as Coronavirus restrictions began to loosen. The pent up consumer demand started rushing back into the dealerships.
While sales look strong as we settle into August, the industry now faces inventory challenges. The OEM supply change started breaking down as far back as late 2019 according to Jim. China, South Korea, and Japan were affected by the virus and couldn’t manufacture the parts that were then assembled in the U.S. As the pandemic started rolling through the U.S., those plants were forced to shut down as well. So, what the industry is seeing is a rolling disruption that Jim believes will go well into October of this year.
“Dealers have become much more efficient. They’re working leaner in their sales and BDCs,” says Jim. “So, this combined with the fact that we’re back at record sales levels with fewer people and less overhead, and then you layer on top of that, the PPP money and dealers are looking at a pretty good quarter.”
As president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, Jim Appleton has represented New Jersey’s franchised new car and truck retailers for over 20 years. To hear more from him, about New Jersey’s COVID-19 response and recovery, be sure to watch our full interview above.
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