Feb 23, 2022 - Economy

Pandemic drives surge in online car sales

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has fueled a surge in online shopping, even for vehicles.

Driving the news: Carvana, the online seller of used cars, is expected to become the seventh largest U.S. retailer by online sales value this year, jumping the likes of Costco and Wayfair, according to a new report.

The big picture: The vast majority of car buyers are still doing it in person. Only 5.2% of auto and parts sales are expected to be conducted online in 2022, according to the report from Insider Intelligence (formerly eMarketer).

But that is changing. Total e-commerce sales for autos and parts are forecast to more than double in the next four years, according to the report.

  • The nation's biggest used-car dealer, CarMax, sold nearly one of every 11 cars online in the quarter ended in November, up from 1 in 20 the prior year.

What we're watching: The pandemic is accountable for a good share of this trend over the last two years. When the risk of COVID-19 fades, buyers may prefer big-ticket purchases like these to be conducted in person.

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