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The Labor Day holiday weekend could be the best time of the year to kick tires at local dealerships.
The industry has seen a slide in overall new car sales this year, creating an ocean of product across in Southern California.
“There’s some great incentives,” said John Sackrison, Orange County Automobile Dealers Association’s executive director. “This is one of the busiest weeks of automobile sales in the year. Between the model year change over and Labor Day sales, the manufacturers are laying out some incredible incentives.”
Year-to-date, vehicle sales in Southern California declined 2.3 percent through June, according to the California New Car Dealers Association. The slump has been mirrored natiowide with falling auto sales after years of growth.
Combine the slump with a large supply of vehicles and it becomes a buyer’s market.
Ronald Montoya, Edmunds’ senior consumer advice editor, said car buyers can expect to see offers of up to $5,000 cash back and 0 percent financing. Some deals will vary by the location and the supply at various dealerships.
Tim Fleming, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said many of the deals will be on leased vehicles as thousands of cars are returned as leases expire.
In Orange County, sales teams were gearing up to hit milestones going into the holiday weekend.
Scott Wade, general manager of David Wilson’s Villa Ford in Orange, said his dealership was offering an extra $1,000 in trade-in assistance and clearance rebates of up to $10,000. The dealership, he said, wants to see a 10 percent growth in sales over last year’s holiday weekend.
“We feel that we’re better equipped this year, better staffed and we have better inventory,” Wade said. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand we feel like we can tap into.”
Kacey Hydler, OCADA’s president and owner of Carmenita Ford in Santa Fe Springs, said “sales are down and inventories are starting to build up,” leading to bigger incentives. Hydler
Tips for buyers
To make the most of car-buying, Montoya suggests doing research and test drives beforehand. All you’ll have to do when things are crowded over the weekend, then, is sign the papers.
“You don’t want to arrive there and start the process from the beginning. You won’t get the same level of care and attention you would on a regular day,” he said.
Wade said the holiday weekend would be incredibly busy. To keep customers happy, Villa Ford will have food and entertainment for people waiting to buy a car.
He suggested customers make an appointment ahead of time to avoid waiting for help on the lot.
Another pro tip? Line up financing before going to the dealer.
Buyers may also want to keep in mind, Montoya said, that many of the deals expand beyond Labor Day. When they do, you can go later and avoid the crowds.
Certified pre-owned vehicles won’t have as many incentives, but may have promotional interest rates, Montoya said.
If now’s not the time, Montoya said some deals might be better at the end of the year, but the supply would be much slimmer.
Auto sales slump
Year-to-date, vehicle sales in Southern California declined 2.3 percent through June according to the California New Car Dealers Association. Car sales have decreased 11.7 percent in the period while light truck sales are up 10.1 percent.
Light trucks sales have seen an insurgence due to more construction in the region and low gas prices.
In Los Angeles and Orange Counties sales overall decreased 3.3 percent, according to the CNCDA.
In the state, the bestselling car was the Honda Civic. The best selling mid-size car was the Honda Accord and the best selling compact/mid-size pickup was the Toyota Tacoma.
In July, auto sales in Orange County were down 6.4 percent compared with the same month in 2016, according to OCADA.
Sackrison said the year in auto sales for Orange County would likely end with a 3 percent to 4 percent slump compared with last year.
Perspective, though, is key.
“Sales are still quite high,” Fleming at KBB said. “When you compare it to years past, sales are still at a strong pace, just not at record levels. It could have an impact on deals, especially with dealers where inventory has stocked up. That’s never a good thing. You don’t want cars sitting on the lot for a long time. That’s where more of the deals can be found and why its a good time to buy those 2017 models that are being phased out. The ones sitting on the lots longer have the most flexibility (with price).”