WEST CHESTER — Business is booming for car dealers in the greater Philadelphia region.
After several months shut down by state mandate in March, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf allowed car sales to resume in Pennsylvania in May. Most showrooms resumed in-person sales in June.
“Business has been booming,” said Brett Sholder, the owner of Sky Motor Cars in West Chester. He opened the venue, on 969 S Matlack St., in West Chester, back in 2002.
He said sales were “OK” in May, but June and July brought in “record sales.”
“We’ve been very busy,” Sholder said.
Sholder said of current sales, “Nothing’s been typical.” August sales were steady in the beginning of the month but have slowed down recently as folks go away to the shore.
Sky Motor Cars carries a broad range of vehicles, including rare sports cars, and the owner said his business offers a completely transparent car buying process.
Sky Motor Cars employs five people. The business operates a sales department; it doesn’t have a service center.
“Everyone’s been great,” Sholder said of his team and the community. “We’re very fortunate that we were deemed an essential business finally.”
He added, “I feel bad for the people who own restaurants and gyms … who really are not in the same position.”
“Across Pennsylvania, approximately 52,000 are employed by new car dealerships, another 50,000 at used car dealerships, for approximately 102,000 employees,” said Melanie Stine, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Automobile Association.
Today there is a huge supply and demand issue. He said this has caused the market to rise in terms of pricing. “That bubble is gonna burst real soon. You can’t keep going in the trajectory that it has been. There’s going to be a huge adjustment in the market backward, not forward. The pricing of the vehicles is going to go down soon, a lot.”
A lot of the new car dealers don’t have new cars because the plants were closed this past spring. Many new car dealerships are now selling used cars to keep up with demand.
“We kind of expected the worst,” Sholder said of the shutdown. Now, “The economy is buzzing along.”
He said, “Consumers have confidence and they’re buying.”
“The governor shut down car sales on March 19 when he declared motor vehicle sales non-essential,” Stine said on behalf of Pennsylvania Automobile Association. “This caused major problems when people were not able to replace vehicles, especially those totaled in accidents or where service costs eclipsed the value of their vehicle. People began traveling to neighboring states were sales were permitted. On April 20, the governor allowed certain dealerships who participate in an online titling program with the state to conduct online-only sales. This remained problematic as most people want to test drive a vehicle before purchase. Showroom sales across the state did not become possible until counties moved to the yellow phase.”
Stine said, “It is currently a great time to buy a vehicle. Most customers are in the market approximately every seven years and today’s product has more safety features and technology, is more efficient. Manufacturers are offering generous incentives, affordable lease deals, and lower interest rates.”
And although total sales for the year are down from 2019, relatively strong sales since re-opening and manufacturer production issues caused by COVID-19 have resulted in new-vehicle inventories nationwide being down to just 2.3 million vehicles, according to Cox Automotive. “Inventory levels in August are usually constricted due to model-year changeovers, but COVID-19-production shutdowns have delayed the rollout of many new model-year vehicles. So, the type of car you’re looking for, its popularity and whether it was affected by shutdowns will determine your savings potential moving forward,” Stine said.
“The Pennsylvania Automotive Association continues to advocate that motor vehicle sales are essential and should never be prohibited or limited to online-only. Many Pennsylvanians were disadvantaged when they couldn’t buy a replacement vehicle during the shut-down,” she said. ” It’s not only a great time to buy a vehicle, customer safety is a priority.”