ARLINGTON, Texas –
As much disheartening data surfaces nowadays connected with the coronavirus pandemic, results from the newest National Independent Automobile Dealers Association member survey offered some upbeat information.
According to the results released on Wednesday, NIADA highlighted independent dealers, for the most part, remain open for business — one way or another — and almost half of them have retained their entire workforce.
NIADA chief executive officer Steve Jordan said the survey results reflect the used-vehicle industry’s optimism and confidence in its ability to cope with the situation and come out strong on the other side, while serving those fighting the battle against the coronavirus on the front lines.
“The message is positive,” Jordan said in a news release. “Dealers are doing the best they can with the cards they’ve been dealt.
“They’ve done the math and they understand the financial impact of the situation. They’re hunkered down, reducing expenses and weathering the storm. For now, this pandemic has not put as many dealers out of business as we originally feared,” Jordan continued.
The COVID-19 Dealer Impact Survey of 880 operators conducted from April 11-14 showed 72% of the respondents are still open for business with social distancing protocols in place, many by appointment only or online.
NIADA discovered 27% of the dealerships reported having closed temporarily, and only 1% have closed permanently.
The association reported more than one in four independent dealers — 27% to be exact — said they are doing business as usual, while 37% indicated they are selling at the dealership by appointment only and 15% said they are selling online only.
In addition, the survey found 47% of dealers have kept their staffing level the same since March 1 — and 1% have actually added employees.
Of the 52% that have cut staff, 56% have reduced their level by more than half. But 85% of those dealers said they have furloughed those employees with the intent to rehire them.
NIADA indicated dealers who have kept their staff intact are likely expecting help in that regard from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. That’s evidenced by the survey, which found 100% of the respondents have applied for those loans.
So far, NIADA noted 21% of those applications have been approved or funded, and only 1% have been denied.
The association acknowledged PPP is by far the most popular government relief program among independent dealers. Only 46% of respondents said they have applied for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan and just 13% have applied for SBA’s Express Bridge Loan.
NIADA research also found the majority of states and local jurisdictions are allowing auto sales to continue in some capacity during the pandemic, while taking steps to protect public health.
“This is a great example of how our industry has coordinated with policymakers — at both the state and national levels — to ensure used car dealers can continue serving their communities in a meaningful way to get through this pandemic,” Jordan said, “especially serving the health care workers, first responders, grocery store clerks and others on the front lines of this battle.”
To view the complete results of the NIADA COVID-19 Dealer Impact Survey, visit covid19.niada.com.