Are there really incentives and specials on the table?
It’s Memorial Day weekend. Put on comfortable shoes, bring lots of water, wear something unassuming, and bring a snack…..we’re spending our extra day off going car shopping! But, does that make sense, and should that be how you spend your time?

Memorial Day weekend tends to be one of the largest volume sales weekends across the country, but is that because there are great deals to be had, or is it because we are led to believe that what we’re being presented with is a great deal, when just maybe it’s no better than it would be after Memorial Day weekend or than it was beforehand?

The truth is that by and large, manufacturers put together incentives, rebates, and finance programs that change every month, and that end on the last day of the month. Certainly, there are exceptions for some manufacturers who allow a program to roll into the first few days of the following month, but that’s generally because they like for their programs to cover a full week. For instance, if a month were to end on a Saturday, they’d likely make the program run through the following Monday so as to take advantage of and give their stores the opportunity to close out any potential weekend business.

For the most part, very few manufacturers add ‘extra’ incentives on top of their already existing programs for Memorial Day, but the opportunity to present and capitalize on a ‘this weekend only’ special is like a bird in the hand to any dealership (or any business) looking for a bump in sales driven by a consumer’s desire to get a great deal. Who doesn’t want a great deal on a new car? But, for the consumer that doesn’t do their research in advance, they have the potential to become a pawn in the hands of the dealership.

When told that the pricing they are offered is ‘for today only’ or ‘only good through the weekend’, the consumer is put into a position where he/she feels like a decision needs to be made right then and there for fear of a price increase – that is, unless they’ve prepped for their field trip.

Could it be that the ‘Memorial Day Weekend Rebate’ existed since the beginning of the month and is good through end of the month, or longer? Or, could a dealership introduce their own “$500 BONUS CASH” only to increase the selling price by the same $500? Could the “Special Low Interest Rate” really not be so special in comparison to what their bank or credit union is offering, and could taking that rate mean losing a rebate? Could the “EXTRA $1000 TRADE REBATE” mean a trade offer of $1000 less than it should be?

All of these questions can be answered by doing some simple online research about a vehicle’s trade value and available new car programs. All manufacturers have their own websites. Digging deep enough into the site, a consumer can always find what rebates, incentives, and finance programs are available (regionally and by zip code) before Memorial Day weekend begins. If come Memorial Day weekend, there’s no change to that information, then despite the advertising and media frenzy, there isn’t anything special happening, so there’s no need for the madness of rushing out to get a car thinking that there’s a great deal to be had.

Yes, there are some manufacturers that run specials specifically for Memorial Day Weekend, but you can always look at their website to know if what’s being advertised is really something new and being added to an already existing program, or if it’s just being ‘pitched’ in such a way that it peaks consumer curiosity.

In our experience, and unless there truly is an incentive tied to Memorial Day, most people who buy or lease over Memorial Day weekend will do just as well as they would have if they bought or leased that same vehicle before or after the weekend. We also find that for many, and because they were led to believe that they’re getting a great deal, they actually end up over-paying because they either didn’t do their research in advance, and didn’t know what they should be paying, or because they were presented with something crafted to look like a great deal that they didn’t ‘background check’ to be sure it was – a ‘slam dunk’ for the dealer!

In our humble opinion, Memorial Day Weekend car shopping shouldn’t be what you spend your time doing on your day off, unless you’ve done your research in advance to know that there’s actually a good reason to do so. For the most part, we find that Memorial Day sales campaigns don’t really add up to what they purport to be, and that with the exception of the few manufacturers that create those added incentives (which are generally tied only to a few of their models), it just doesn’t make sense to get out there.

From us to you….Happy Memorial Day, and if you have the extra day off, enjoy it…even if that does mean going car shopping!