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Dealers hope for bright Xmas

Senior Observer reporter

Friday, October 16, 2020

Predictions that the retail automobile industry worldwide would be seriously hurt by the fallout from the novel coronavirus have become true, with sales falling by at least one-third.

The situation is about the same in Jamaica, and while local dealers remain concerned about the future, there is a lot of optimism that between higher Christmas sales and increased numbers of Jamaicans returning home for the holidays from the diaspora and more tourist arrivals things will be much brighter soon.

Long-serving chairman of the new-car dealers' umbrella group — Automobile Dealers' Association (ADA) of Jamaica —- Kent Lacroix, while admitting that the sector was “terribly affected” by the pandemic, was extremely optimistic that it would rebound with the Christmas season, and get even better in the New Year when the annual tourism figures start climbing again.

“I don't have any knowledge about a lot of the dealers going out of business, they are just tightening their belts. But, the tourism business should start rebounding [in the winter] and lots of people are going to want to buy a new car or own a newer car,” he told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

“Then there are new models coming out, which people want to own, and there is going to be the need for more cars to rent. New models are coming in and chances are dealers will try harder to get rid of their stock by offering new deals,” he continued.

Garnett Reid, the Small Business Association (SBA) of Jamaica executive, who owns Caribbean Cars Sales and Rentals admitted that things were bad for car dealers this year with the advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I am selling one car, or sometimes two cars, per month. That is a 80 per cent fall in sales. The rentals are worse, that is down about 90 per cent. It is mostly locals who are renting, because there are only a few visitors and most tourists are quarantined,” he stated.

“But it is freeing up a bit now; yes, things are looking up. We expect to have a bright Christmas season, because more people are going to want to travel now. A lot of Jamaicans in the diaspora are dying to come home, even for short while. But, we expect to have a good Christmas, with more US dollars in the system,” he conceded.

LaCroix said that some dealers offer reduced prices or longer payment period car sales for months.

Not only are they reducing the prices, but they have improved terms and conditions for payment.

Globally, the consumer pullback has had long-term implications for car ownership, according to recent survey data of consumers by Deloitte. Chipmakers that sell into auto supply companies and major automakers are also expecting declines in revenues.

“Companies up and down the value chain are feeling the pressure of supply and demand disruption, and public concern for health and financial well-being has slowed global economies,” Deloitte said in a new report, 'How the pandemic is changing the future of automotive'.