Earlier this month, the Synergy Merchant Services blog discussed the automobile industry's role in potentially strengthening the Canadian economy. It had been reported that the car industry, notably Ford, was enjoying an increase in success in 2009. Consumers, it appeared, were more confidently spending money on new vehicles.
Perhaps, with the purchases of so many new vehicles, less Canadians are need of getting their cars repaired. According to Kristine Owram of The Canadian Press, “Canadian car and truck owners are spending less on maintenance and repairs than they did in 2008.”
In an interesting twist, a study conducted by consumer survey firm J.D. Power and Associates found that “average annual expenditures on vehicle maintenance and repairs shrunk to $856 in 2009 from $920 in 2008 a decline of 7%.”
Regarding these findings as an example of further “consumer belt-tightening”, Owram conveys that the automotive industry is still experiencing the effects of the recession. She goes on to reveal that the survey also concluded that 28% of costumers admit to locating the “cheapest place” for service for their cars. This is a 6% increase from a survey conducted in last year.
Darren Slind, senior director and Canadian automotive practice leader at J.D. Power was quoted as saying, “In a difficult economy, vehicle owners seem to be delaying what they perceive to be non-essential maintenance or seeking out the lowest-cost option…In the long run, this may prove more costly in terms of vehicle reliability, but in the short term, consumers are dealing with other spending priorities.”
Interestingly, Slind also comments about the decline of new vehicle sales, adding a damper to previous reports of growth in Canadian auto sales. Sales, in fact, are down 16%, according to Slind.
In addition, the J.D. Power survey discovered that consumers are coming to rely more on independent mechanics and autobody shops for maintenance work as opposed to the generally more expensive car dealerships.
The recession continues to prove to be a complicated issue for both businesses and consumers alike. It is not surprising that most Canadians will search for the best deals possible for all of their basic needs. It is too bad, however, that this may result in more stalled cars on the road…as if traffic wasn't bad enough as it is.