Posted by: David Welch on October 1, 2008
Want a quiet place to do some reading? How about a nearby car dealership? Ford’s sales fell 35% this months and GM discounted its way to a less catastrophic 16% drop. But that’s not even the worst of it. CNW Marketing Research says that showroom traffic during the last 10 days of September fell 51% compared with the same period a year ago.
That means showrooms are effectively empty. Not only are banks cutting credit, thus keeping some would-be car buyers from driving off in a new car, consumers aren’t even shopping. Anecdotally, dealers have been telling me all month that the traffic has been comparable to the dark days after the Sept. 11 attacks. Back then, the nation was in shock and few felt like kicking tires. This time, it’s rock-bottom consumer confidence, tapped-out buyers and the fear and loathing that comes with the uncertainty created by our leaders in Washington and Wall Street. Dealers tell me that the banking crisis and related bickering in Congress has consumers paralyzed.
Well, tighten your belts and buckle up, folks. This will be the deal for some time. Already, various research firms are dropping their sales forecast to 13.7 million cars and trucks next year. There’s nothing on the horizon that will boost buyer confidence any day soon. Not even a $700 billion bailout.