After eight weeks of mandated closure, car dealerships in the Valencia Auto Center reopened last Friday to strong demand.

The 13 showrooms sold 245 vehicles last weekend, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Auto Dealers Association, which noted that the center’s sales total is only one unit lower than its performance for the same weekend in 2019.

“The number of cars sold this past weekend was the closest thing to normal we’ve experienced so far,” Don Fleming, president of the association and owner of Valencia Acura, said in a statement. “Navigating the constantly changing business landscape of the past two months has been challenging. Car dealers had to change their business practices overnight.”

When Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the statewide stay-at-home order on March 19, auto dealership parts and service departments were classified as essential businesses that could remain open, but sales departments were not. As regulators moved into the second stage of a four-part reopening plan last Friday, auto showrooms were able to resume sales operations with the implementation of additional safety protocols.

“When the showrooms closed, most sales staff were laid off. With the Paycheck Protection Program availability and dealership doors open again, sales teams have now been able to come back to work,” Fleming said.

According to Holly Schroeder, chief executive of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., the sales volume is an encouraging sign that the region’s economy could recover from the COVID-19-related shutdown.

“We may be entering our new normal,” Schroeder said in a statement. “The dealers strong reopening weekend is an economic indicator that demand is there.”