NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Forget about buying toys or electronics this Black Friday weekend. If you want to save big bucks, pick up a new car or truck.
"I honestly think there's never been a more affordable time in recent memory to buy a car. It's just going to be a great weekend for consumers," says Larry Dominique of market-watcher TrueCar, which says Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday represent three of the year's five best days for auto bargains.
TrueCar analyzed millions of 2013 U.S. vehicle purchases and found that Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — was the fifth-best day of the year for discounts.
Consumers paid 8.15% below manufacturer's suggested retail price on average for vehicles bought that day, or a full percentage point less than the 7.15% typical discount shoppers got during 2013 as a whole.
Car shoppers did even better on Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving), typically netting 8.17% off of list prices. That's the third-highest discount for any 2013 day.
And they did better still on Cyber Monday (the Monday after Turkey Day), notching up 8.58% on average off of manufacturers' suggested retail prices. That's the second-best average price break for any date last year.
Dominique, who worked as a Nissan executive for more than 20 years, says automakers once ceded Black Friday weekend to department stores — but no more.
"The Nissan marketing department used to say: 'We can't compete with Santa Claus,' so you used to only see very light advertising in December," he says. "But we've seen this shift over the last five or 10 years of everyone [wanting to get more sales] at the end of the year."
The expert says automakers hope to close out their books with as many transactions as possible because bad weather traditionally means poor sales volume in the new year's first few weeks. "Everybody wants to finish the year really strong because sales fall off the cliff in January," Dominique says.
That's why he and other experts say U.S. consumers will find plenty of great rebates, lease offers and 0% financing at dealerships this weekend.
Jack Nerad of Kelley Blue Book says Black Friday "represents one of the hottest shopping days in America — and new-car shopping is no exception. There are amazing deals on new cars right now."
Some of the best incentives he and other market watchers see for the upcoming weekend include:
- Five-year zero-percent financing on remaining 2014 Volkswagen Passats — KBB's No. 1 pick for a November deal.
- KBB editors also like Nissan's current offer on the 2014 Altima: $1,000 cash back and a five-year zero-percent loan. Other rebates that they see as standouts include $3,500 cash back on the 2014 Mazda CX-9 and $3,000 off of the 2014 Ford Fusion.
- Dominique's favorite Black Friday incentive is a 20%-off-MSRP discount on select 2014 and '15 GMC Sierra 1500 pickups. He says the price break can save shoppers as much as $10,000.
Whatever vehicle you choose, Dominique says consumers who plan to buy cars in the next few months might as well go for it this weekend. "If you can find the vehicle of your dreams at the best discount of the year," he says, "why wait until February or March or April?"
— By Jerry Kronenberg for MainStreet