CLEVELAND — When snow is falling like it seems to have been doing for the better part of the last month most people don’t want to leave the comfort of their couch, new car buyers are no different. As a result after a strong 2021 for new car sales, the numbers to start 2022 took a hit.
"January's numbers are off, considerably 20 percent down," said Lou Vitantonio, President of the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers' Association.
Inventory limitations were a factor but the big one was weather.
"We've had some major storms and some major selling days that are shrunk," he said. "And that's a big factor when people can't come out and actually see the cars."
Out at Sliman's Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Amherst, the numbers were actually good for them in January but they know Mark Johnson’s forecast can often be an early indicator of how the week will go with the storm bearing down on Northeast Ohio to end the week had the staff Thursday consolidating the new and used car inventory around the lot to make for easier cleanup.
"We already have the lot cleared off anticipating the big storm tomorrow," Sliman Vice President Olivia Toney, "so that our plows can just go right through and then we can get the lot back to how we want to be as quickly as possible so definitely trying to take a pro-active approach."
If you want to bring a wider smile to the face of Toney and almost every Northeast Ohio auto dealer don't talk about the weather, talk about the auto show.
"Oh it's huge, it's huge especially for our franchise," Toney said.
Yes, Jeep and Ram will both have test tracks inside the IX Center where the Auto Show will open in just three weeks on February 25 after skipping a year for the pandemic, and for the first time there will be a third test track as well.
"Brand new first time in Ohio Broncos gonna have itself a track inside the building," Vitantonio said. "So you have three tracks inside, four different rides and drives outside."
The new models will all be on display at the auto show when they will all be available to buy will still in some cases require patience. "Will we see increased inventory as we had pre-pandemic" Vitantonio said. "We won't for a while, it's going to carry all the way 'til I think the fourth quarter of 2022, maybe into 2023 until we will see an abundance of vehicles but that doesn't mean you can't find a car."
The Auto Show for customers is an antidote for cabin fever and for dealers a kickoff to the spring buying season. The operative word being spring, a time when hopefully the folks at Sliman's won't have to clear out the lot again for a storm. Although they look at the bright side.
"This time of the year it's not a bad idea to start the cars all up any way you know."