Has Foot Traffic to Luxury Car Dealerships in Cities Returned to Pre-COVID Levels?

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The U.S. automotive industry has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Consumer demand for new cars is significantly lower: in the second quarter of 2020, automakers reported that car sales were down by more than 30%. At the same time, used car sales are up in the U.S. So, how are luxury car dealerships performing in U.S. cities? Are consumers still buying luxury cars during a recession?

Which Luxury Brands Are Most Popular Now?

There are still some cities in the U.S. who love luxury cars in the post-COVID economy. But for the most part, foot traffic remains below pre-COVID levels at luxury car dealerships. Tesla continues to outperform both BMW and Mercedes. September foot traffic to Tesla dealerships in cities was just 15% lower compared to February. In contrast, foot traffic to Mercedes dealerships was 39% lower while traffic to BMW dealerships was 30% below pre-COVID levels.

BMW Dealerships Outperforming Other Luxury Brands in Select Cities

As of September 2020, foot traffic to BMW dealerships in Atlanta, Georgia was 69% higher than pre-COVID levels. Other cities with foot traffic to BMW dealerships above pre-COVID levels include Brooklyn (32%) and Memphis (11%). As the holiday shopping season approaches, we predict that these cities will continue to see strong foot traffic at BMW dealerships.

2018 Case Study: Top 15 Cities Who Love Luxury Cars

In analyzing the foot traffic to luxury car dealerships, we were able to gain valuable insight to their customers. We learned about their activities, habits, interests and more. First, we identified which cities have the most foot traffic to luxury car dealers. Then, we examined the favorite brands in different cities and which brands are the most popular overall.

Imagine the kinds of insight that location intelligence could unlock for your business. Understanding where your customers go, and why, can provide valuable insight to your customer’s interests, activities, values and motivations. This knowledge could be applied to drive marketing strategy, identify new opportunities and improve messaging, media buying, and reach.

We wanted to learn more about which luxury automobiles are preferred by residents of different cities. So we used pseudonymous location data to measure foot traffic at luxury dealerships. Here’s the top fifteen list of the top car-loving cities, and their favorite luxury brand.

15. Phoenix – Audi

14. Kansas City – Cadillac

13. Washington D.C. – Cadillac

12. Minneapolis – Mercedes - Benz

11. San Francisco – BMW

10. Seattle - BMW

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9. Dallas – Porsche

8. Portland – Mercedes - Benz

7. Las Vegas – BMW

6. Atlanta - Maserati

5. Boston – Telsa

Tesla is Boston’s most popular luxury car company according to our location data. Tesla Motor’s customers have turned the company into one of the most-liked in the country. This despite investors’ worries about the company’s ability to maintain production and performance levels. With their mission “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport” through compelling electric cars, Tesla generated a cult-like following. As one of the main tech hubs on the east coast, Boston is an ideal market for Tesla’s innovative vehicles.

4. New York - BMW

BMW is the top selling luxury automaker in New York – along with Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco. Ever the “ultimate driving machine”, BMW boasts customer retention rates 10% higher than the industry average. Their reputation for building as many variants of each model as possible gives their customers plenty to choose from. When customers are looking to upgrade, they have a wealth of options to choose from. They don’t have to go outside the brand to find a car that fits their needs.

2. Chicago - Audi

The luxury make of choice in Miami, Mercedes has been a staple of the prestige automobile scene in the US since the American branch opened in 1965. For more than 50 years, Mercedes has consistently ranked high in safety standards, reliability and design, earning them a stellar reputation among consumers. Mercedes earned the top spot as the luxury brand of choice in Portland and Minneapolis as well.

1. Los Angeles- Porsche

With ten dealerships within the Los Angeles area, Porsche takes the top spot among luxury car brands in the biggest luxury market of all – Los Angeles. Producing a fun-to-drive “dream” car has been Porsche’s brand mission since its founding in 1948. With the allure of an award-winning race car, Porsche is the ideal ride for those wanting some extra speed – while taking in the balmy SoCal weather and ocean views along the Pacific Coast.


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