"Black Friday" Sales Do Work, Just Not As Well For Cars As For Electronics
Marc Stern's picture

Though “Black Friday Sale” Sounds Dramatic, Here Are Ways To Get Better Deals At Other Times

By and large, the "Black Friday Sale" phenomenon doesn't belong to the world of cars; you may find a deal or you may not. Most deals are decidedly standard. That's not to say "Black Friday" doesn't work, it does, just not for cars, very much.

While reading a website this week, there was a strong suggestion that if someone was in the market for a new car and wanted to buy or lease one, then the best day was “Black Friday.” Not knowing where the particular author found that tidbit of information, it did spark a bit of head-scratching, a close look at the calendar and a look at a few notes that were hanging around in some old research to see if there was any real validity to the claim.

Guess what the bit of counter-research turned up, do you want to know? Okay, here it is: you can get a great car deal on “Black Friday,” provided said the sixth day of the week was at the end of a month, or, even better, if it was at the end of a week that coincided with the end of a sales period. Other than that, you probably would have been better off waiting a bit to buy to achieve real savings because “Black Friday” sales are illusory, even at top Volkswagen and Audi dealerships.

Take A Careful Look Before Trekking

Yes, it is true this year that the major manufacturers promise fantastic deals on some models, but you had better take a careful look before trekking to a dealership to find something may or may not be there. Oh, there will be deals, aplenty, but the chances are good that if you are looking for a compact crossover or a midsized crossover or if you are looking for a super-cab pickup with a bunch of toys then you will come up short on the savings list.

An unusual thing happened this year – about eight months ago – sales of well-equipped midsized sedans, always the market’s strongest arena, tanked. It was about March when crossovers leaped in front of sedans to take command of sales and extend their lead. There has been a mini-drought in midsized sedan sales since. Indeed, the same sales drought now extends to fullsized sedans.

The sedan sales falloff will, like as not, lead to some extra incentive on the parts of dealers to move that iron off their lots, so you can expect to see heavy discounting there. Is this a part of the vaunted “Black Friday” sales event? It is a part of the sales event only as far as advertising managers and other marketeers included sedans in their holiday advertising plans.

Of course, there are some other buys out there but, again, they are not likely a part of “Black Friday.” They are vehicles that would otherwise have been moved at this time of the month.

One might wonder exactly what this means? It is simply this: there are times of the week; times of the day; times of the month, and even times of the year when you can expect heavier vehicle discounting than normal. When cars are more heavily discounted, the deals that sales managers can arrange for you can save significant cash.

Calendars And Cars Sales Go Hand-in-HandL

Car sales are tied to the calendar. Over the history of the car business, individual programs like the “President’s Day Sales Event,” which had its beginnings in a bike shop in Medford, Mass., are timed to either get a new season started, in this case, spring. Or, in the case of the “Labor Day Madness”-style sales, the events are timed to help get things amped for the new-car season ahead. Of course, there are numerous local “sales events,” every week, that are little more than come-ons to get consumers into new-car stores. In reality, they don’t save all that much.

Let’s remember one thing to this point; there is no such thing as a typical “Black Friday” deal; every deal that made is unique to the buyer’s (or lessee’s) particular situation. So, if “Black Friday” isn’t the best absolute time for the greatest deal, how can you almost guarantee a great deal, every time? Believe it or not, you can if you:

  • Wait until the either the day before or the last day of the month and walk into a dealership with a decent downpayment or a clean low-mileage trade-in. This puts you in the driver’s seat because you are the type of buyer a dealer wants with few encumbrances; willing to deal, and a great background situation (trade or high cash downpayment). As this is when dealers have to close their monthly numbers, If a dealer is a few cars short and needs to make a few more sales, then you are pretty much guaranteed a great deal. How much it will be is tough to say as each situation and each dealer is unique.
  • Wait until either the day before or the last day of the quarter and walk into a dealership with a good downstroke (downpayment) or clean trade-in. This is an especially exciting time of craziness at most dealerships. The last day of the quarter also, quite naturally, usually also falls on the final day of a month (in the car business, you can’t close a quarter without closing each of the preceding three months) which is great news for you. Every dealer in each sales zone faces twin pressures: meeting the number of cars they promised to move in the quarter, and improving their position within the sales region. If a dealer meets his quarterly and monthly numbers, the benefits are enormous. The dealer will get preferred deliveries of some short-supply, popular vehicles that can be sold for near-sticker, and the dealer will also get other hot-sellers. If a dealer fails to make his numbers, then deliveries, unless they were customer-ordered from the factory, usually take a somber turn. Yes, the dealer will still get cars when promised, but, the mix may be made up of more slow-selling sedans and fewer high-profit, hot-selling crossovers. And, the configurations of those vehicles may make them harder to sell. Also, there’s the ranking within the sales zone with higher ranking gaining dealers better model distribution and deliveries.
  • Stormy Time Deal Tales True

  • Wait until there is either a heavy rain or snowstorm, at any time of the winter months. Though many think this is phony, it isn’t. Car dealers need to sell cars to stay open. When heavy snow, ice or rain hit an area for a day or two in the winter, car sales can effectively be shut down. Every customer that comes through the door of a dealership in weather like that is valuable. Dealers will go to whatever lengths needed to make sure they drive out in a new vehicle.
  • Wait and watch the online listings to see if any vehicles are especially long-in-the-tooth. Dealerships have been known to have previous year vehicles hiding in areas of limited accessibility that can become quite old, although they are still new cars. If you can find an older 2016 that is still on the lot, say with 300 or more days on it (since the day it rolled off the carrier), you can likely work a deal that you won’t believe.

Notice one thing about all of the times just mentioned – they aren’t at all related to “Black Friday.” Yes, there are deals to be had this year thanks to the bulging inventories of midsized and fullsized sedans. Like as not, you won’t find many super deals on crossovers because they are still relatively hot (even though the overall vehicle market has slowed over the last couple of months). By and large, though, the average “Black Friday” deal will be close to what you can achieve on a non-“Black Friday” sales day, give or take $200 or $300.

Like it or not, the myth of the special “Black Friday” car sale is just that, a myth. You can find similar deals throughout the year just by watching the date and shopping judiciously.

(Source: The author is not only a Torque News reporter, but he has also been a car salesman. He has based this story on his first-hand knowledge of the car business.)

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