25% of Americans have pent-up demand to buy a car once things return to normal, about the same percentage who plan to attend a concert or sporting event. For those who were in-market earlier this year for a vehicle, purchase horizons have shifted. Nine out of ten new or used vehicle shoppers say that COVID-19 has impacted the timing of their vehicle purchase. However, not everyone plans to delay a vehicle purchase very long. Over one-half will only delay their purchase by 1-6 months or will purchase a vehicle sooner than they expected (54%).12% say COVID-19 has no impact on the timing of their vehicle purchase.

Purchase timing among those who were in-market differs markedly by generation. Gen Z and Millennial shoppers are more likely to purchase in the near term. Nearly two-in-five Gen Z  (39%) and Millennial (35%) shoppers plan to delay their purchase 1 to 3 months. In fact, 22% of Millennials plan to purchase a vehicle sooner than planned as a result of COVID-19. Conversely, at least two-in-five vehicle shoppers ages 40+ plan to postpone their purchase by more than 4 months.

Males and females are also shifting their purchase timing differently due to COVID-19. One-third of males (31%) plan to delay their purchase by just 1-3 months. On the other hand, one-third of females (30%) plan push out their purchase by more than 6 months.

With fewer shoppers in-market for a vehicle, it’s important to understand who’s left. The implications here suggest that younger male buyers have the most interest in a vehicle (new or used) in the near term. Older buyers will return to market slightly later on. Ensuring that vehicles, features, promotions, and services are aligned with the needs of in-market shoppers will be a big part of the automotive industry’s comeback.


Greg Paratore

Research Director

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