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Buying a new car in today’s market can be a little tricky, considering the inventory shortages and dealer markups. However, the name of the car sales game has not changed. Dealerships need to offload the cars they have on the lot before the end of the year. Does this mean winter is a good time to buy a new car?

Waiting until the end of the year can be the perfect time to buy

Vehicles are covered in snow in the yard of a car dealership.
Vehicles are covered in snow in the yard of a car dealership. | Matthias Bein/picture alliance via Getty Images

The wintertime means colder climates, which equates to less foot traffic in the dealership. There’s nothing worse for a car salesperson than sitting around and waiting for the next customer to come in. If you’re ready to buy a car, then you could be the salesperson saving grace for that day or even for that month.

According to Bankrate, “It’s no secret that dealerships operate on monthly and annual quotas. These influences bonuses and commissions offered by both the dealership owner and the manufacturers the dealership works with.”

In that case, there’s a good chance that the salespeople and the managers will be chomping at the bit to sell you a car, provided they have the right car in stock. If not, you’ll have to order one and wait.

Many dealerships have end-of-year sales

Some franchise dealerships – or dealerships that have a relationship with a manufacturer – usually have end-of-year sales to help push inventory out the door. These sales may come in the form of lower interest rates or manufacturer rebates to help cut down the car’s price. If you’re not a strong negotiator, wintertime is a good time to buy a car since prices will be lower.

However, you can still look forward to paying the MSRP or close to it in today’s market. Either way, the lower the price, the better.

Fewer customers shop during the wintertime

A car salesman brushes snow off of a car.
A car salesman brushes snow off of a car. | Getty Images

Although many consumers will be gift shopping at the mall or online, many won’t be shopping at a car dealership. That makes the month of December a good time to shop. Also, since it’s close to the end of the year, you’ll probably get a better deal.

If you can’t make it to the dealership before the end of the year, January and February are great times to shop for a car. The beginning months of the year are typically slow, so there’s a chance to get a good deal. Don’t expect thousands of dollars off the MSRP, though.

Volvo vehicles outside a Volvo dealership in South Edmonton.
Volvo vehicles outside a Volvo dealership in South Edmonton. | Artur Widak/NurPhoto

Depending on which car you’re buying, there could be a dealer markup on the price. However, negotiating that price down to the MSRP, or possibly a little below it, is a good idea. If anything, you can expect a captive audience in a salesperson during the slow months since they’ll want to sell you a car just as much as you want to buy one.

Ultimately, shopping for a new during the wintertime has its perks when it comes to discounts and the dealership’s eagerness to sell you a car. As a good rule of thumb, the best negotiating tool is if you can purchase a car that the dealer has in stock. During the winter, they’ll be looking to get rid of it.


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