Canadian new-vehicles sales in May fell an estimated 44 per cent when compared to the same month a year ago as the COVID-19 pandemic entered its second full month, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
The firm estimates that 113,224 light vehicles were sold in Canada last month, an increase from the 45,833 units sold in April. New-vehicle sales dropped into "uncharted territory" in April with an estimated 75-per-cent plunge from a year earlier.
Monthly sales numbers are now only estimates because the vast majority of automakers have moved to public quarterly reporting. DesRosiers uses proprietary modelling techniques to estimate monthly sales.
“May’s year-over-year decline can evoke a touch of cautious optimism as the first tentative shoots of recovery spring up from a badly damaged marketplace,” the company said in a statement.
While dealerships in Quebec and Ontario, where even test drives were banned, were closed during April, they began to slowly reopen — under strict health and safety guidelines — in May. The two provinces account for about 80 per cent of the country’s new-vehicle market.
Some analysts early on had feared sales could be down by as much as 80 per cent in May.
DesRosiers said "it’s a measure of the strange times" when a market decline of 44 per cent "can seem like a positive sign."
“As dealerships slowly reopen—even with reduced hours or appointment-only visits—the new light vehicle sales market may well and truly have begun the arduous climb back to recovery,” DesRosiers said. “So, a touch of optimism for the coming weeks is warranted – and attention can be focused toward the shape and the speed that the recovery will follow.”
DesRosiers’ seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales now stands at 1.1 million new vehicles. Automakers sold 1.9 million new vehicles in 2019.
Toyota is one of the few automakers still reporting monthly sales. It saw its total plunge 49 per cent to 13,494 in May. Hyundai brand sales were down 47 per cent to 7,538 units while Kia sales fell 25 per cent to 5,904. Volvo sales were off 39 per cent to just 602 units.