Inventory shortage woes: Midwest customers will wait the longest, study shows

David Beckam

The vehicle shortage has affected dealerships throughout the U.S. greatly, but a study released by analytics firm Growth from Knowledge found that Midwest customers are willing to wait the longest to get the vehicle they want.

Over 17,000 consumers who were aware of the chip shortage were surveyed, and 33 percent said they would change their purchasing plan because of the shortage. Almost half of those people said they would wait until their exact model arrived.

Of the people willing to wait, those from the Midwest were most likely to wait more than 12 months, with 43 percent saying they would do so. Northeast consumers were the least likely to wait that long, with only 30 percent willing to do so.

Julie Kenar, GfK’s senior vice president of mobility consulting, said the difference is most likely due to the high number of auto workers living in the Midwest.

“That is where the bulk of employee sales are happening, and clearly people who are using an employee discount are much more aware of the chip shortage and better understand the impact,” she told Automotive News.

While it is not as clear why the fewest number of people who would wait over a year were from the Northeast, it likely has to do with a lifestyle difference. Many of those consumers likely did not need cars in the past, but as there is a shift in the number of people moving to the suburbs from major metro areas, they will likely need them now, Kenar said.

Jason Olesnavage, a division manager for Midwest dealership group Fox Motors, said the vehicle shortage has forced his branch to come up with new ways to sell cars, especially because there aren’t enough to fill lots, he said.

While there are different pools of customers willing to change their purchasing plans, he deals with many who will not compromise and will wait for the exact car they want. He said his customers will typically wait the longest periods for newer models of the Ford Bronco, Ford Bronco Sport and electric vehicles.

Fox Motors is ranked No. 75 on Automotive News’ most recent list of top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 12,517 new vehicles in 2020.

Beyond finding that Midwesterners will wait the longest, GfK found that those over 45 will wait the longest as well.

Those with the lowest household income are also willing to wait the longest, while of those making over $150,000, only 29 percent would wait over 12 months.

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