2 Min ReadApril 6, 2023

Inventory Issues Rear Their Head Once Again

Woman at car lot

Last month, rising inventories led to more shoppers in our monthly survey finding the cars they wanted in stock and visiting fewer dealers. In March, we saw a pullback on not only the overall Ease of Purchase score, but also the number of stores visited and the number of vehicles found in stock.

The Ease of Purchase fell to 81% from last month’s 85% — the second lowest number since we started tracking in July 2022. Shoppers were not finding the car they wanted immediately, and that may have been one reason for the lower figure.


The number of people who only visited one store fell dramatically from 44% in February to 27% in March. And while 42% of shoppers found the right car and completed their purchase at their second dealership stop, the number who visited three or more stores rose from 25% in February to 31%.

Last month, we saw for the first time in our survey’s history that most shoppers (52%) found the car they wanted in stock. In March, that number dropped to 43%. This is still quite high and is the third highest we’ve recorded. Shoppers had to go back to buying vehicles in transit, up from 19% to 30%. The number of shoppers that ordered vehicles held steady at 18%.

We also found that time expectations also changed for the worse. Those who said it took more time to complete the purchase of their new car rose from 34% to 39%, with fewer people saying it took the time they expected or less.


Specific steps in the buying process, like price negotiation and applying for credit, saw drops in crucial areas. Even taking the test drive wasn’t as easy, falling from 78% to 73%. One shopper agreed that while they didn’t have an issue finding the right car, they didn’t feel like a priority at the dealership due to long waits at nearly every step of the process.

Where we saw positive comments — and the numbers to back them up — was around a mixed use of online purchase tasks. Several buyers said that completing at least some of the paperwork online led to them considering it an easy process. The overall number of people who said they took this approach rose significantly to 32% from 22% in February. While 60% of shoppers still make the purchase completely at the dealership, that number fell from 70% last month.

This month’s results show that we’re not experiencing a new normal quite yet. The variability in inventory can dramatically change the purchase experience.

Share This

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.

Recent Insights

Ease of Purchase Hits New High in February

Ease of Purchase Hits New High in February

Despite hurdles when it comes to affordability, more car buyers said it was easy to complete their purchase in February...
2 Min ReadFeb 27David Thomas
That’s a Wrap. Takeaways From N A D A 2024.

That’s a Wrap: Takeaways From NADA 2024

The camaraderie and partnership that comes with being at NADA were in full effect at this year’s show in Las...
3 Min ReadFeb 19CDK Global
Buyers Take the Wheel for Car Sales in 2024.

Buyers Take the Wheel for Car Sales in 2024

After three years of dramatic post-pandemic market swings, buyers in 2024 are poised to take back the wheel with plenty...
3 Min ReadFeb 13CDK Global
What’s the Key to Win the Automotive Service Wars.

What’s the Key to Win the Automotive Service Wars?

Although 2024 is shaping up to be a buyer’s market, new and used vehicles continue to be painfully expensive for...
3 Min ReadFeb 9David Thomas
Friction Points 2024

CDK Releases the Friction Points 2024 Study

The automotive industry has returned to somewhat of a pre-pandemic state at the end of 2023, but car buyers are...
1 Min ReadFeb 1CDK Global
The Game Changing Value of an Automotive C R M.

The Game-Changing Value of an Automotive CRM

The automotive industry is known for its love of acronyms and buzzwords. Most of the time we see dealers change...
4 Min ReadFeb 1Amber Good
Busting the Top Five Myths About the American Car Dealer.

Busting the Top Five Myths About the American Car Dealer

When you live and breathe the industry you work in, you tend to get a little protective of your colleagues...
5 Min ReadJan 29Barb Edson
Service Shopper 3 point 0 white paper.

What’s Changed in Service Shopper 3.0

Winning over a shopper is difficult for any type of retailer. Securing someone’s business looking to service their car however,...
1 Min ReadJan 12CDK Global
F and I Manager Tips. Hidden Opportunities in the Service Department.

F&I Manager Tips: Hidden Opportunities in the Service Dept

At first glance, the F&I and Service departments may seem worlds apart. Yet, both departments are critical linchpins in connecting...
4 Min ReadJan 12Saundi Crandall
New Cars Easier to Find, Bolstering Buyer Attitudes.

New Cars Easier to Find, Bolstering Buyer Attitudes

Car buyers raced against the clock to secure deals before the end of the year while inventories and incentives were...
2 Min ReadJan 3David Thomas