Fewer commuters could mean less winter business for tire shops

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If you haven't been commuting to the office much, or at all, since the pandemic began, you may not have even thought about winter tires yet.

You wouldn't be alone. Frank Bongiovanni is the president of Superior Tire & Auto. He says they have noticed the number of cars they'd usually see at this time of year is slightly down.

"A number of different factors are affecting it, corona(virus) of course, but I can say that are car counts are down a little bit. Sales vary between locations — we're not where we should be but we're doing OK," Bongiovanni says. "COVID, a lot more people are working from home so they may think twice about putting on winter tires."

Bongiovanni points out that even though fewer people are commuting, a majority of snowbirds are expected to stay here through the winter this year, which could even out the numbers a bit more.

But there's an added complication. Bongiovanni says tire manufacturers scaled down their production due to COVID-19, which means there is a smaller selection of available tires.

"We're running into it almost every day. What can I say? If a customer wants a particular size and it's not available, all we can do is suggest to them what other brands are available in the application that's required."

Even if you aren't doing your regular daily commute through the winter, Bongiovanni urges anyone who has a vehicle to put their winters on — you never know when you might need them.

"The difference between a summer or an all-season tire compared to a winter tire is huge, just from a safety point of view," he says. 

Bongiovanni adds that he'll have a better prediction for how the winter season will go by next month when we could see some real winter weather hit the GTA.