It’s been experiencing fewer prospects – but What Car? is also seeing less ‘window shopping’ too.
And that leads managing director Rachael Prasher, pictured, to ask in her latest weekly industry update: Have we begun to turn a corner?
She says it’s becoming more and more evident that opportunities are available for dealerships that are open online.
The ‘shock’ slowdown of leads experienced between March 13 and 26 subsequently stabilised, said Prasher, adding that What Car? was now witnessing what it called a ‘lockdown normal’ of about 25 to 30 per cent of the pre-coronavirus levels of inquiries made to dealers by buyers.
She states: ‘If someone is looking, they are looking to buy, and as a result, our leads are more qualified than ever.
‘During the past seven days, nearly a third of visitors said the primary purpose of their visit was to research new cars and read reviews – up by a substantial 11.5 per cent on the week before. What’s more, the week-on-week jump of 42 per cent in people seeking corona-related advice is driven by 73.5 per cent of these visitors specifically seeking information on the availability of new cars from dealers.
‘The public is – slowly but now quite clearly – swinging back into new car research and purchase mode.’
Nearly five per cent say they intend buying in the next four weeks. The UK’s lockdown measures were extended on April 16 for at least three weeks, taking us to May 7. Meanwhile, 12 per cent want to complete their purchase within three months – up 49 per cent on last week.
Prasher adds: ‘Consumers are still actively in research mode, and I would argue that many will seek first contact even earlier than normal as they sit at home planning for tomorrow.’
And she urges dealers: ‘To build the funnel, you have to engage. Dealers may be relying on technology and IT platforms to do that, but a more relaxed attitude to responses is just as unadvisable today as it was pre-crisis.’