SAULT STE. MARIE -- Car dealerships in Sault Ste. Marie are seeing customers coming back in a big way after having to close for an extended period during the pandemic.  

“Sales really came back to where they were last year and even a little higher which please use to no end,” said Mark Chiccarelli, manager with World Cars Hyundai.

“We were really shocked by it, we were expecting people to be very tentative.”

The surge in sales is leading to a shortage of vehicles on the local lot. Some dealers are running low on 2020 models, months ahead of expectations.

“Dealer trades are impossible to get right now,” said Greg Lefave, President of the Superior Auto Group.

“To try and call another dealer to bring them in, just everyone is really really short,” Lefave said.

That has to do with the production at the factory having halted for a while during the pandemic. 

Before Covid-19 hit, Lefave said used cars were flying off the lot. He didn’t anticipate that to continue into the late summer months.

Chiccarelli also said his used vehicles are very popular as more people want a vehicle but they are looking to spend less money during the pandemic.

According to a recent report by DesRosier Automotive Consultant Inc, August vehicle sales in Canada dropped by 8.9 percent compared to August 2019.

Last month 165,837 vehicles were sold across the country.

In August of 2019 182,040 vehicles were sold.

Lefave believes the vehicle industry in the Sault is doing better than expect because of what happen to the local economy a couple of years ago.

“We already had a recession in 16, 17, 18 with everything that happened in Essar. And historically that’s kind of the way it goes in the city,” said Lefave.  

“Essar goes through its problems and we go through a mini local recession and we get out of it and then something happens nationally and there’s a national economic catastrophe and we seem to be fine here in the Sault.”