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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

U.S. automakers—and buyers—shift toward small

In case you weren’t checking-in with the New York Times over the holiday weekend, there was an interesting story about our recent shift toward smaller cars in the Monday edition.  Click here to read the story.

Implications:  The current economic recovery started in the fourth quarter of 2010.  Until that time, many car buyers had been putting-off this major purchase.  So the past six to nine months have represented the first major, sustainable car-buying binge since gas prices were above $4 back in 2008.   Also, a more contemporary price hike was on our minds as gas prices jumped over $4 earlier this year.  Fuel, like never before, has been a high-profile issue… at a time when more people have been in in a position to shop for a new vehicle.

There is still a truck or SUV in many household fleets… but if this trend toward smaller vehicles should continue (and I think it will), it might influence a number of unrelated categories.  For example, if you sell home furnishings, will affordable delivery become a more important criteria on the consumer’s consideration list?  Should spacious seating become something worth promoting to those who run a roadside restaurant?  (“Stop in and stretch out!”)  What will consumers do with that new found space in their over-sized garage?

Mike Anderson, for the Elm Street Economics consumer trends blog. A service of The Center for Sales Strategy, Inc.

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