Winter car sales down, dealers offering big bargains

GLENDALE (WITI) -- Area car dealerships say the winter weather is taking a toll on sales but some businesses are urging customers to brave the cold in order to snag a great deal.

"This year was off a little bit because of the cold weather," said Chris Meyer, general manager of Heiser Ford Lincoln. "We have to catch up for the first time in a lot of years. We actually closed during that extreme cold."

Meyer says the dealership has been seeing a different kind of customer this season thanks to the weather conditions.

"Generally if they are coming in right now their car has died or they were in a car accident with the snow or something," Meyer said.

Many customers are focusing on other costs of the season. Meyer believes winter budgeting plays a role in the number of customers they have been seeing.

"I think everyone is feeling the crunch on it right now. The budgeting, where somebody budgets $200-$300 for the heat bill and electric, it's doubled that because of the extreme cold -- but we need transportation," said Meyer. "That's where the lease comes in. They can get a lower monthly payment with more car and generally little money out-of-pocket."

He says he's anticipating a growing interest with new deals being offered and an upcoming indoor auto show.

"The manufacturers generally kick off with a couple of incentives. We've launched it with additional maintenance rebates on various vehicles," said Meyer.

Buyers are eager to take advantage of the savings. Many are also shopping out of sheer necessity.

"We only have one car. He'll be getting out of grad school so he'll need his own car to get to work, so we will need two cars once summer comes," said Sara Johnson, who is shopping for a new vehicle with her husband.

The couple has a unique perspective on braving the cold and snow to find the perfect vehicle.

"We figure it's a good idea to come out in winter to test drive it -- to see how they might drive. That's something you don't know but it's pretty important in Wisconsin," said Erik Johnson.

For those looking to do a majority of vehicle shopping at once, the auto show runs from Saturday, February 22nd through Sunday, March 2nd.