Most Car Shoppers Are Waiting for Year-End Sales Before Buying

  • Share
  • Read Later
George Doyle / Getty Images

It’s no mystery why consumers in the market for new wheels have been in no hurry to purchase cars: Prices for new and used vehicles remained unusually high throughout the summer—even during Labor Day weekend, which is normally a prime time for deals. As far back as spring, word was that the best offers and incentives wouldn’t arrive until late autumn or early winter. Now, anticipating great end-of-year sales ahead, the majority of would-be car buyers say they’ll be ready to pull the trigger very soon.

Kelley Blue Book projects that the next few months will be a busy period for car shoppers—bargain-hunting car shoppers in particular. In a new survey, 62% of consumers in the market for new and used cars say that they’re looking to purchase over the next three months.

And why are so many car shoppers suddenly ready to make the big purchase? After month after month of slow car sales—and, not coincidentally, high car prices and minimal incentives, along with a struggling economy—KBB says that consumers are geared to buy in the days ahead “due primarily to year-end sales events.”

(MORE: How to Drive 1,418 Miles on a Single Tank of Gas)

Two-thirds of consumers likely to buy cars soon plan on unloading their current vehicles at the time, with 37% trading in their old automobile at the dealership, and another 29% who will try to sell it on their own.

The big turnover will bring more used cars to the market, and hopefully help solve one problem for consumers. One reason that used cars have reached all-time high prices is that drivers have been more likely to hang onto their old vehicles for longer periods of time lately. In August, KBB predicted that the decline in leasing, new-car purchases—and, consequently, a decline of used cars being traded in—is likely to keep used-car prices high for years to come.

(LIST: Top 10 Most Valuable Used Cars)

As more used cars hit the market, however, the laws of supply and demand dictate that used-car prices will head southward.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.