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Vans, Hatchback Sales Increase Following Storms

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Jumpstart Automotive Media, a media, insights, and marketing solutions company, recently did a post-Florence shopping analysis showing what types of vehicles are being considered and researched along the Southeastern coastal region of the U.S. following the storm.

Jumpstart experts analyzed the Florence-affected areas and compared regional shopping growth to national growth to see where certain body styles or segments showed differences. According to Black Book, the storm may ultimately result in as many as 20,000 cars and trucks damaged or destroyed during the storm and ensuing flooding. This number may escalate higher after factoring in additional damage from Hurricane Michael, which affected the Florida Panhandle and additional areas throughout Georgia and South Carolina.

As was the case in Texas and Florida the previous year, local residents that were affected immediately began to shop for replacement vehicles in the weeks after the storm. In the three weeks since Hurricane Florence came ashore on the East coast, Jumpstart has seen traffic grow the fastest in the Metropolitan Statistical Areas of Wilmington, N.C. – an increase of 219 percent; Greenville, N.C. (127 percent); Florence, S.C. (117 percent); Charleston, S.C. (66 percent); and Raleigh (19 percent).

One major shift since recovery efforts began is the growth in shopping for used vehicles, the company reported. In each market that was affected by the hurricane, growth in used car shopping surpassed the national average by up to four times. Among used vehicles, these are the segments that are picking up speed:

  • Vans and hatchbacks/wagons are two of the body styles that have picked up in interest along the East coast. Vans in particular saw up to 285 percent growth three weeks after Florence hit.
  • Although truck interest is up as well, the type of truck varies across the affected markets:
    • Three quarter- and 1-ton pickups are showing growth in the two most hard-hit regions of North Carolina (Wilmington, Greenville) that is more than 30 percent greater than national growth.
    • Midsize pickup growth was the highest in the hard-hit regions of South Carolina (Charleston, Florence) as well as Greenville, N.C.
    • Full-size pickup growth only outpaced national growth in two of the affected markets, Charleston, S.C. and Greenville, N.C.

Despite the popularity of SUVs and CUVs across the country, their growth didn’t stand out as significantly in the recovery areas, the analysis showed. One thing that is clear from the data, affordability and utility are key among residents that are replacing family vehicles or seeking larger vehicles to help with recovery efforts.

Jumpstart also identified differences to those from Hurricane Harvey last year, most notably that Houston shoppers were significantly higher in truck replacements than what they’re seeing currently on the East coast. This falls in line with both regional shopper preferences (the South East tends to skew higher in Cars than Texas or the Gulf coast) and socioeconomic factors of the affected regions.

“The analysis of post-hurricane shopper interest data can certainly help dealers and OEMs as they focus on re-stocking inventory or meeting demand for local residents looking to replace their damaged or destroyed vehicles,” said Brian Miller, senior web analyst for Jumpstart. “We’re definitely noticing where a majority of residents are shopping for smaller- and midsize cars, vans and pickups, which indicates to us that many people are looking for affordable functionality that offer versatility in their replacement vehicles.”

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