Black Friday: Best day to buy a car

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — When people think of Black Friday shopping, they usually think of things like flat screen TVs, toys and sweaters. Now you can add cars, trucks and SUVs.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the best day to buy a car, according to car pricing researchers at the Web site Truecar.com.

Analysts looked at day-by-day car pricing for the last several years. That data revealed that discounts on Black Friday are, on average, the biggest of the year.

“The discounts from dealerships, as well as manufacturers’ incentives, generate the highest discounts of the year on Black Friday,” said Jesse Toprak, an analyst for Truecar.com.

Unlike typical Black Friday sales where customers know exactly what they’ll pay for an item, car prices are individually negotiated the day of the sale, so it’s difficult for customers to know ahead of time they’ll be getting a deal. But there’s been a clear trend, Toprak said.

The average new car discount on Nov. 27 is projected to be 7.5%. The average discount the day before and after is expected to be just over 6%. On a typical day throughout the year, car shoppers usually pay about 4.7% less than the sticker price.

Truecar.com projected particularly large Black Friday discounts on certain models. For instance, consumers should be able to pay about 28% off sticker price for a 2009 Suzuki SX4 compact car, 26% off for a 2009 Nissan Titan or Ford F-150 pick-up or 20% off a 2009 Hyundai Sonata sedan.

Getting in on the Black Friday madness

Car dealers are trying to get a piece of the Black Friday shopping frenzy, Toprak theorized, and that may to lead to the bigger discounts found in the data.

“There’s a lot of noise in the market that day, and we have to stand out,” agreed Brian Benstock, general manager of New York City’s Paragon Honda.

Paragon Honda will send bicycle riders dressed in gorilla costumes to a nearby Best Buy store, Benstock said. The gorillas will be draped in sandwich-board signs advertising car deals available just down the road.

Paragon Honda will also be relying on more traditional advertising methods to pull customers in, Benstock said, including TV and print ads touting a “$5-a-day” Honda Civic. (That’s a $149 a month for a 30-month lease with $1,999 down.)

Michelle Primm, managing partner of Cascade Auto Group in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, said her dealerships don’t usually do big, splashy ads, except on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.

“Those are the only two days when we buy full-page ads in the paper,” she said.

Primm says her dealership does get more business on Black Friday although according to Truecar.com’s Toprak, average dealership traffic doesn’t tend to be particularly high that day, said Toprak.

“Dealerships always spend a lot of money on marketing for that day,” said Toprak “but for some reason it’s not a particularly big day for car shopping.”

That may be part of the reason for extra-big discounts, Toprak theorized. Dealerships that aren’t getting the business just keep trying harder.

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