Automakers that still report Canadian sales on a monthly basis continue to experience year-over-year growth, despite the ongoing — and in some provinces, worsening — COVID-19 pandemic.
Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and Subaru all posted gains during October, with Subaru and Kia generating the biggest increases, up 12 and 19.4 per cent to 6,319 and 7,460 new vehicles, respectively.
In a statement, Subaru Canada said sales “were reinforced by the incredible performance from Crosstrek, Outback and WRX STI.”
With 2,724 units sold, it was the best month ever for Crosstrek. And, it was the second best month overall for the automaker.
Subaru Canada CEO Yasushi Enami said interest in Subaru vehicles can be attributed to “the arrival of our 2021 models, especially the refreshed Crosstrek.”
Kia Canada were immediately available for comment.
Hyundai jumped 4.9 per cent to 12,239 units while Toyota sales inched up 1.5 per cent to 21,100.
Mazda sales were also up 6.3 per cent to 6,414.
Honda and its luxury brand Acura both saw their sales decrease. Honda was down 11.1 per cent to 15,243 units while Acura sales fell 13.7 per cent 1,490.
Rebekah Young, who, as Scotiabank’s director of fiscal provincial economics keeps a keen eye on Canada’s auto industry, says there are several factors still driving auto sales.
“It looks like we have a combination of some pent-up demand still working through the system, possibly some fleet sales particularly commercial fleet coming back on line now, but also potentially new buyers from pandemic-induced fears,” she told Automotive News Canada in an email Tuesday. “We also had the new Canada Recovery Benefit come online in the first week of October which effectively reset the clock for claimants that may have exhausted employment benefits under [the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit].”
The emergency response benefit ended Oct. 3 and the Canada Recovery Benefit has already paid out $1.48 billion to more than 917,000 people between Oct. 3 and Oct. 30.Meanwhile, provinces such as Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba continue to see cases surge. Ontario on Tuesday reported 1,050 new cases of the virus while the Manitoba government is weighing a curfew.
A ban on indoor service at bars and restaurants, and a limit of 25 per cent capacity for most retail stores, are measures already in place in the Winnipeg region.
Even with more than 1,000 new cases in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford is considering relaxing restrictions there as cases in that area subside. The regional approach might bode well for retail, Young said.
“A more targeted approach to shutdowns also likely means job losses should be less severe,” she said. “Unlike the first wave, we are not seeing a shutdown of dealerships, which are also better equipped to service demand remotely for the most part of the buying process.”
Still, she said generally speaking, Canadian retail sales overall “are flattening.”
“So it would be surprising to see this continue, but overall this underscores that nothing about this downturn is ‘usual,’” she said.