Used or new? Delayed or soon? Canadians share car-buying plans


Close to three-fifths of Canadian shoppers surveyed by CarGurus last month plan on buying a vehicle this year, with 41% saying they had intended to, but are now putting off that purchase.

The survey, which was conducted among 500 Canadians, delved into car-shopping sentiments amid the pandemic, was released May 1 and included some findings pertinent to used cars.

“Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on the automotive industry, our study showed that there are several bright spots among consumers who plan on purchasing a vehicle this year,” CarGurus director of customer insights Madison Gross said in a news release.

“Based on the data, consumers are mostly still planning major purchases such as a vehicle, but those sales are likely to be delayed until later in the year when economic activity begins to return to normal and certainty over economic outlook improves,” she said.

Used, new or unsure?

Once these consumers get in the position to buy, though, what are their plans? Fifty-eight percent initially planned on buying a new car and said they will go forward with that. Fourteen percent said they were planning to go new and are switching to used.

Sixteen percent planned on going used and still intend on doing so. Just 4% had planned to go used and are switching to new.

Eight percent were not sure of their plans.

Delayed but not indefinitely

While most still plan to buy this year, the CarGurus survey found that 87% are now planning on buying later than expected. 

But still, 68% of consumers delaying their purchase are still conducting vehicle research.

And another positive nugget noted in the survey summary: “Only 6% who were planning to buy this year before the pandemic have now delayed their plans indefinitely.”

As Gross noted, the economic outlook and purchase plans run along similar timetables. Twenty-three percent anticipate normal economic activity to resume within three months and 33% intend on buying during that time frame, according to the CarGurus data.

Similarly, 57% are anticipating that the economy will resume normal activity within six months and a similar amount (53%) say they’ll buy during this time.

Getting more specific with the timetable, the CarGurus data showed that 16% intend on buying soon after the restrictions end, 4% planned to buy within a month, 12% in one to three months, 21% in four to six months and 28% in seven to 12 months. Thirteen percent said they planned to delay for more than a year and 5% were not sure.

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