3 Min ReadMay 2, 2024

Car Price Negotiations Ease in April

Car Price Negotiations Ease in April

Car buyers still found it overwhelmingly easy to buy a new car in April but there was a slight drop in the ability to find what they were looking for on dealer lots. The overall Ease of Purchase score — determined from a monthly CDK survey — actually ticked up to 87% in April from 86% in March, just off February’s record high of 88%.

As new car inventories remain high across the country, the ability to find exactly what they wanted was keeping buyers happy so far in 2024. But in April, we did see a significant drop in the number of people who said it was easy to find the car they wanted, falling from 78% to 73%. That’s still a relatively high number but it was interesting to see that figure move so much when the number of people who bought a car in stock remained virtually the same at 53%, down minutely from 54% in March. The number of people who found an alternate vehicle in stock moved up from 6% to 9%, proving the point that more shoppers needed to pivot from their first choice.

Ease of Purchase April 2024Surprisingly, as the selection process became just slightly harder, it seemed the most arduous part of the process improved in April. Buyers said agreeing to the value of their trade-in was easier in April, up to 57% from 50% in March. One respondent said that getting a trade-in value before coming into the dealership sped things along, with the dealer just having to quickly confirm the car was as described.

Agreeing to the final purchase price also improved to 67% from 63% in March. This is as overall incentives dropped slightly from March but are still elevated from the same time in 2023.

Where respondents did their buying also changed a bit more than usual. More than a third (36%) only visited one store, up from the 31% in both March and February. The time it took only changed slightly with 29% saying it took longer than expected to complete the deal, up from 26% in March.

Ease of Purchase April 2024And while the number of people who said they started the purchase process online and finished at the dealer remained steady at 27% (yes, 68% of people complete the entire journey at the dealership), they delivered extremely positive comments about the experience. One said that the dealership offered a virtual tour of the car while many others focused on completing much of the paperwork before coming into the store.

April looks to be another solid if not spectacular month of sales, but dealers may need to keep fine-tuning their inventory mix. As overall inventories continue to rise, the dip in shoppers finding exactly what they wanted should be seen as a warning sign.

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David Thomas
By David Thomas
Director, Content

David Thomas is director of content marketing and automotive industry analyst at CDK Global. He champions thought leadership across all platforms, connecting CDK’s vast expertise to the broader market and trends driving our industry forward. David has spent nearly 20 years in the automotive world as a product evaluator, journalist and marketer for brands like Autoblog, Cars.com, Nissan and Harley-Davidson.

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