COVID brings yo-yo car sales in Visalia

Groppetti Automotive has best month in five years during the COVID-19 pandemic

VISALIA – Not much in the economy has thrived during the pandemic, but local car sales have managed to see more than a mild uptick this summer.

Visalia’s largest car dealer, Don Groppetti says April sales were “a complete disaster” but by June “we had the best month in five years.”

“It seems enough people still have money,” Groppetti said. Whether it’s from spending less elsewhere (like travel) or from federal payments people seem to have the money now.

“It’s been a challenge and we’ve had to adapt like everyone else” he added.

The dealership has been lucky with few staff affected by COVID, he said.

It’s a yo-yo sales trend riding the COVID wave.

In July the issue “has not been lack of consumer demand but a lack of enough inventory” based on manufacturing backlogs. Pent up demand frustrated consumers this spring and may now be playing catch-up, Groppetti believes.

Carmakers are making it attractive to buy with low financing and record low interest rates.

“Altogether things are not so bad. We’ve had enough ingredients to have some success” even in the middle of a pandemic, summed up Groppetti.

On the national scene total new vehicle sales will reach 1,189,928 units in July 2020, down 18% from a year ago predicts ALG, Inc., a subsidiary of TrueCar.

TrueCar says Jeeps are selling well this summer with a boom in camping and outdoor adventure in the U.S. versus traveling by air for a vacation.

The California new vehicle market got off to a good start in the first two months of this year, and then the bottom fell out when the COVID-19 crisis took hold in March stated the California New Car Dealers Association.

They estimate the new vehicle market fell by 24 percent during the first four months of 2020 versus a year earlier. New light vehicle registrations this year are predicted to fall to 1,540,000 units, a 26% decline from 2019. The association has seen a small decline in new vehicle sales in California for the past few years from 2.21 million in 2017 button they said it could fall to 1.5 million new registrations this year.

Not selling so great in 2020 are “hogs” Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales fell 27% in the second quarter. The company said consumers purchased about 52,700 motorcycles globally in the second quarter, down from 71,800 in the same period a year earlier, hurt by COVID-19 impacts.

New Kaweah Delta clinic in Tulare to open in early ’21

Kaweah Delta expects to open its new clinic in Tulare in early 2021 the hospital board heard this week. The new multi-specialty care center, nearly 10,000 square feet, will be located in the former IRS building at the corner of Prosperity Avenue and Mooney Boulevard.

Kaweah Delta eyes site at proposed Hwy 99 Sequoia Gateway complex

Kaweah Delta is negotiating with Sequoia Gateway LLC for location at the proposed highway commercial center at the Caldwell/99 interchange. The potential project was listed on the healthcare district’s board agenda this week.

Sequoia Gateway has already attracted a planned Valley Children’s Hospital clinic to be part of the project, what would be a multi-phase 725,000-square foot development. First approved in 2018 the commercial center has yet to break ground although some curb and gutter work has recently moved forward. The property owners had hoped to open in 2020 but leasing has reportedly lagged. No other tenants have been announced.

Valley Children’s Hospital spokesperson Zara Arboleda reported that for their site “Valley Children’s expects to close escrow on the property in late 2020, pending the seller’s completion of necessary infrastructure improvements.” She added that future times lines for their clinic would follow.

The site is adjacent to the Visalia city limits and all approvals have been done through the county.

The city of Visalia has yet to approve a planned connection to the center from the city wastewater treatment plant across Highway 99.

Meanwhile Sequoia Gateway owners Bill Travis and Fred Ruiz are marketing 83 acres for regional commercial use this summer, a planned future phase adjacent to the smaller highway commercial center.

Developers had estimated Sequoia Gateway would create more than 2,000 jobs and $17 million in annual tax revenue.

To be located at the southeast corner of Caldwell Avenue and Highway 99, Sequoia Gateway is to be built in phases over the next eight to 10 years they announced in late 2018.

The first phase includes a Valley Children’s specialty care center, as well as gas stations and fast food restaurants. Phase two is to include hotels, retail stores, and a visitor’s center.

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