Auto Trader customers will get free advertising in February and an extension to payment terms for January bills.
The classified advertising website is the first to announce its package of support for car dealers forced to shut showrooms during the third lockdown.
Auto Trader boss Nathan Coe said he was committed to ‘doing the right thing’ for dealers and offered the ‘helping hand’.
He said: ‘We had all hoped that by now, with news of vaccines, that there would be a clear end in sight and that we could put this incredibly challenging period we’ve all experienced behind us.
‘But once again, we face new challenges and further lockdown restrictions – certainly not the start to 2021 we were all hoping for.
‘We remain committed to doing the right thing to support our customers and the wider automotive industry, which is why we have taken the decision once again to financially support our customers.
‘By offering them a helping hand, through what we all hope will be the final hurdle in this pandemic, it will set them up to hit the ground running when their businesses are able to fully re-open.’
Auto Trader said that all UK dealers will benefit from the free advertising in February and payment terms will be extended by 30 days for this month.
The firm said this will help ease cash flow and enable them to ‘come back quickly’ as soon as restrictions are lifted.
With dealers able to continue with click and collect services during the third lockdown, Auto Trader said that this should ‘help sustain some sales’ as it is coupled with continuing high consumer demand.
The firm said: ‘Since Christmas, we have seen strong audience growth as well as consumer engagement, which has in turn boosted the numbers of leads sent to retailers.
‘The growth in leads is indicative of the shift in consumer buying behaviour, with buyers unable to visit forecourts, they are inevitably connecting more with retailers online.’
Yesterday, Car Dealer reported on news that the classified advertising websites were planning support. Cargurus and Pistonheads, as well as the eBay Motors Group, are all likely to follow Auto Trader’s lead.
Big Motoring World boss Peter Waddell, who had called on Auto Trader to act yesterday, said he was delighted the firm ‘have done the decent thing’.
However, he called on the others to ‘follow suit urgently’, adding: ‘It’s amazing that Auto Trader has listened to their dealers and I personally spoke to them and am pleased they took note, but now it is time for the others to help.’
Auto Trader has moved quickly to make changes to packages during the pandemic. It made advertising packages free for three out of the last nine months and charged at a 25 per cent discount in June, all ‘at a considerable cost to the business’, said the firm.
Car Dealer discussed the help suppliers are offering car dealers, as well as the new restrictions, in our new Podcast (recorded last night). You can find it by searching for the ‘Car Dealer Podcast’ on your preferred platforms, like Spotify, or use this link to listen now.