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It seems like every retailer uses holiday weekends as a reason to put their inventory on sale, and advertise these discounts, and the world of auto retailing is no different.  The manufacturers and dealerships know that consumers will use the extra time off to take care of one of the biggest purchases most people make, and that the deals and heavy advertising is needed to get folks to choose their brand and their dealership over all the other choices.


The Weekends to Watch

There are six holiday periods in particular that the automotive industry focuses on for its holiday-themed deals, although what you’re shopping for may impact how great of a deal you can expect, as well as which holiday it is.  Throughout the year the biggest holidays for auto sales are (chronologically, not sales volume):

  1. President’s Day Weekend
  2. Memorial Day Weekend
  3. July 4th
  4. Labor Day Weekend
  5. Thanksgiving Weekend
  6. End of Year / Week between Christmas and New Year’s

While President’s Day falls anywhere from February 15th to 21st, all the rest of these holidays fall more conveniently with the general flow of the auto retailing universe: each month is a new opportunity to set new sales records and qualify for sales incentives provided by the manufacturer.  Therefore, with these holidays generally falling in the last week of the month it simply amplifies the effect that most sales happen later in the month, and dealers (and to some degree, the lenders/lessors) generally are more willing to offer amazing deals at month-end that may not have been accepted in the first week of the month or outside of a holiday sales event.  And in the case of July 4th and Labor Day – which fall in the first week of the month, many of these deals start getting advertised during the last week of the prior month (June and August respectively).

Getting a Great Holiday Deal

Just because a store is having a sale doesn’t mean everything is equally discounted.  It’s the same thing at a dealership – the dealer has both new and used vehicles for sale, everything from sports cars and convertibles to trucks and SUVs, and may be trying to clear out an old model year.


Labor Day represents the unofficial end of summer and if next year’s model of the car you’re looking at hasn’t arrived yet, it’s likely just weeks away.  This means that if you’re looking to lease (or buy) a sports car, convertible, or for any vehicle in the outgoing model year (current calendar year – so a 2017 vehicle), this likely will be a great time to get a deal on any of those.  Obviously, if the dealership doesn’t move all they have in these categories it’s only going to get further from summer and further from the outgoing model year too, so it means the available deals after the holiday weekend may not be any worse.  The important thing is that if you see that the manufacturer has placed an incentive on the vehicle you’re interested in that is tied to a holiday deal, you may not be able to get the best possible deal after the event ends.  That’s why you need to do your research (and if you’re reading this – you are doing it – well done!)

Turning a Holiday Sale into a Great Lease

Keep in mind that you’re not the only one seeing the ads on TV or elsewhere about the holiday weekend deals.  The dealership will be busy, so the more research you can do ahead of time the better your leasing (buying) experience will be.  The other thing to remember is that the advertised special is often a starting point for your negotiations – not the end point.  Just like you wouldn’t look at the window sticker and see the MSRP and assume that’s the price that your lease should be based off, you shouldn’t look at the holiday special price and assume that’s it.  More dealerships have gone to fixed pricing at a value below MSRP – if you’re at one of those dealerships, then the price is the price, but if not, don’t mistake the advertised special as the manufacturer or dealer doing your negotiating for you.  One last point about the advertised special – be sure to understand the terms and conditions of the special – it may be fewer included miles than you need, or more cash than you want to put down – all of that is negotiable to get the lease that works for you, based on the selling price represented by the special – so ask about it!

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