It’s been more than a month since Hurricane Florence soaked the Carolinas and other locations in the Southeast.
On Monday, Jumpstart Automotive Media uncovered more than a half dozen metrics and other trends through its post-Florence shopping analysis, pinpointing what types of vehicles are being considered and researched along the Southeastern coastal region of the U.S. following the storm.
Jumpstart experts analyzed the Florence-affected areas and compared regional shopping growth to national growth to see where certain body styles or segments showed differences.
According to Black Book, the storm may ultimately result in as many as 20,000 vehicles damaged or destroyed during the storm and ensuing flooding. Experts suspect this number may escalate higher after factoring in additional damage from Hurricane Michael, which impacted the Florida Panhandle and additional areas throughout Georgia and South Carolina.
As was the case in Texas and Florida last year, analysts determined local residents that were affected immediately began to shop for replacement vehicles in the weeks after the storm.
In the three weeks since Hurricane Florence came ashore on the East coast, Jumpstart has seen traffic grow the fastest in the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) of:
— Wilmington, N.C. (up 219 percent)
— Greenville, N.C. (up 127 percent)
— Florence, S.C. (up 117 percent)
— Charleston, S.C. (up 66 percent)
— Raleigh, N.C. (up 19 percent)
Jumpstart noticed one major shift since recovery efforts began is the growth in shopping for used vehicles.
In each market that was affected by the hurricane, analysts spotted growth in used-car shopping surpassed the national average by up to four times. Among used vehicles, these are the segments that are picking up speed:
— Vans and hatchbacks/wagons are two of the body styles that have picked up in interest along the East coast. Vans in particular saw up to 285-percent growth three weeks after Florence hit.
— Although truck interest is up as well, the type of truck varies across the affected markets.
— Three quarter- and 1-ton pickups are showing growth in the two most hard-hit regions of North Carolina (Wilmington and Greenville) that is more than 30 percent greater than national growth.
— Midsize pickup growth was the highest in the hard-hit regions of South Carolina (Charleston and Florence) as well as Greenville, N.C.
— Full-size pickup growth only outpaced national growth in two of the affected markets, Charleston, S.C., and Greenville, N.C.
Despite the popularity of SUVs and CUVs across the country, Jumpstart found that their growth didn’t stand out as significantly in the recovery areas.
Analysts insisted that one thing that is clear from the data. Affordability and utility are key among residents that are replacing family vehicles or seeking larger vehicles to help with recovery efforts.
Jumpstart also identified differences to those from Hurricane Harvey last year, most notably that Houston shoppers were significantly higher in truck replacements than what they’re seeing currently on the East coast. Analysts explained this development falls in line with both regional shopper preferences as the Southeast tends to skew higher in cars than Texas or the Gulf Coast.
“The analysis of post-hurricane shopper interest data can certainly help dealers and OEMs as they focus on re-stocking inventory or meeting demand for local residents looking to replace their damaged or destroyed vehicles,” said Brian Miller, senior web analyst for Jumpstart.
“We’re definitely noticing where a majority of residents are shopping for smaller- and midsize cars, vans and pickups, which indicates to us that many people are looking for affordable functionality that offer versatility in their replacement vehicles,” Miller added.