A Deeper Dive for Dealers: Current Wholesale, Retail Conditions

April 22, 2020

I had the honor and privilege yesterday to serve as the featured speaker in the first installment of Cox Automotive’s webinar series, Continuity & Recovery Perspectives for Auto Dealers.

We had nearly 2,500 people on the webinar—a showing that suggests a critical need for market and operational insights to help dealers manage the current COVID-19 crisis and the disruption it brings to their businesses.

Perhaps the most impactful elements of the webinar arrived when Ben Flusberg, associate vice president for Manheim M Logic, and Chris Stutsman, senior director of product innovation for vAuto, shared their respective views on current wholesale and retail market conditions.

Flusberg affirmed that, on average, the recent near-shutdown in wholesale and retail sales has caused wholesale valuations to drop about 12 percent. For dealers, this decline in values means you likely own used vehicles for more than they’re worth in the current wholesale market.

Meanwhile, in the retail market, Stutsman shared that while wholesale values have declined, we have yet to see a commensurate change in the retail asking prices of used vehicles currently on the market. He also detailed how some dealers are taking advantage of this current retail pricing inefficiency.

On the webinar, we discussed what these wholesale and retail market conditions mean for dealers as they look to regain their retail footing.

We also highlighted a shared view that, while there are bright spots in the wholesale and retail markets, and the federal stimulus checks should certainly help dealers, the growing ranks of unemployed Americans likely means that the car business’ recovery won’t be as quick as any of us would like.

You can listen to the webinar here.

Looking ahead, I’ll be participating in the next installment of the Cox webinar series at 3:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, April 30. I’ll be joined by Cox Automotive’s Jessica Stafford, Erica Danford and Mo Zohabi to discuss how the current crisis is changing consumer behaviors and expectations as they research and shop for vehicles. You can register for this webinar here.