Car sales getting back to normal in B.C., Canada | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Car sales getting back to normal in B.C., Canada

Image Credit: Submitted/Wikimedia Commons
August 11, 2020 - 7:30 PM

It may just be pent-up demand caused by a crash in new car sales during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown or, it might be a sign that the economy is in a strong recovery mode, but July was the best month of the year for car sales in Canada and ICBC reports a surge in vehicle registrations.

“Generally, everybody is saying that folks are coming back into the dealerships, whether it’s in person or remotely,” Blair Qualey, president and CEO of the New Car Dealership Association of B.C., told “I suspect there was a bit of a pent-up demand there because we went through quite a period of time when everybody was locked down at home. People do need their cars from time to time, leases need to be renewed and things like that.”

Total light vehicle sales in Canada, as tracked by Desrosiers Automotive Consultants, dropped by more than 70 per cent during the height of the lockdown in April. Total sales were fewer than 50,000 vehicles that month.

In July, sales surged past 150,000 and are only down slightly from 2019. It was the best month of the year. Normally May is the best month with sales pushing past 200,000.

Image Credit: Submitted/Desrosiers Automotive Consultants

ICBC reported, last week, that “customers are now reinsuring their vehicles at higher than historic levels.”

Since April 23, 120,000 non-fleet vehicle insurance policies were cancelled but 300,000 new insurance policies were written.

Those new policies include some of those 120,000 cancelled policies being renewed. This is also the time of year that things like motorcycles, travel trailers and RVs are insured for the summer.

While activity is up from April 23 to now, the picture is not quite as rosy when ICBC looked a bit further back in time.

“if we track back to mid-March at the beginning of the pandemic when we saw many customers cancel their insurance and some customers choose not to renew their insurance policies, overall new policy sales are lower than historical norms,” ICBC said in an email.

Even if things are not completely back to normal, they are not far off.

“All in all, it bodes well for the broader economy,” Qualey said. “We tend to be a canary in the coal mine, as it were, around economic activity so we see that as a good sign. We’ll see if it was all pent-up demand or if things will continue.”

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