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Car dealers are achieving around 66 per cent of normal volumes in lockdown 3

Time 3 months ago

Car sales are performing better than predicted in lockdown 3, according to figures from Auto Trader, who reported that those dealers who adapt their businesses have won the market share.

Marshall Motor Group is outperforming the market average, according to CEO Daksh Gupta, who said this was partly down to brand mix but also the number of consumers willing to buy remotely.

Gupta appeared on Car Dealer Live this week with Nathan Coe, CEO of Auto Trader, who said that car sales are currently at two thirds of last year’s figures in this third lockdown – above the prediction it made of 50 per cent at the beginning of the year.

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Coe added that he felt its statistics can be misleading sometimes because the divide between dealers embracing the changes to how they can operate and those who aren’t ‘is really exaggerated at the moment’.

He said: ‘We’re seeing on average, based on proxy data, that retailers are selling at around 66 per cent of what they were doing in January last year.

‘It’s definitely down, and it’s definitely down a serious amount, but you’d expect that.

‘In April and May it was more like 25 per cent, November was more like 75 per cent, so if I was a betting man I would have said this time would be more like 50 per cent.

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‘It’s coming out much stronger than that.’

Gupta commented, although unable to give specifics as a listed company: ‘We’re doing better than the 66 per cent, is what I would say, but I think there’s a lot to do with brand mix and there’s a lot to do with new and used.

‘There are certain brands where there are some nuances. Where you’ve got brands with an older age demographic, you’ll see they’re impacted more.

‘Where you’ve got brands that are quite hot, so Land Rover are a great example of that, and our Land Rover businesses are actually ahead of last year.’

Coe explained further that Auto Trader has ‘seen a split of dealers’, saying that there’s those dealers who have embraced ‘that this is just the way it’s got to happen because we’re locked down and restricted’ and ‘those who have said they will wait it out’.

He said: ‘I do think we’re seeing a split in results where it’s not everyone is doing around two thirds.

‘That’s really exaggerated at the moment because if you don’t sell like that then you can’t really sell.

‘I think when we come out the other side, a lot of consumers aren’t going to go back and they’re going to want those buying options.’

Marshalls has evolved and Gupta praised his team for this but expressed how he would never have predicted this for the dealer group a year ago.

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He said: ‘If you’d asked me would we be selling, as we have done so far this month, over 6,000 vehicles without a customer coming into our showrooms – I would have said you’d been smoking some high grade stuff.’

‘We’ve also taken 170 orders where customers have put their credit card details in and reserved online. Again, if you’d said that to me a year ago, I would have been saying the same thing.’

He commented that there is a much higher percentage of females doing this but said ‘we are seeing a higher number of cancellations, and when you look at the reasons it’s because they wanted to physically see the car.’

Rebecca Chaplin

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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