Car dealers in Scotland won’t be allowed to offer click-and-collect services from Saturday, but it is hoped they’ll still be able to deliver vehicles.
Speaking today in Holyrood, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said rules surrounding click-and-collect services were having to be tightened to reduce the reasons for Scots to leave home and interact with others.
From Saturday, only retailers in Level 4 areas selling essentials and certain non-essential retail will be able to offer collection services.
Car showrooms and dealerships aren’t included, although it is believed they’ll still be able to deliver vehicles straight to customers.
Mainland Scotland is in lockdown, but some islands are in Level 3.
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The SMMT posted on its website earlier this afternoon a message that appeared to suggest home deliveries would be allowed.
It said: ‘From Saturday, non-essential click-and-collect retail services will be prohibited in Level 4 areas and further changes will be put in place to how services open for essential purposes operate.
‘Therefore, from Saturday click-and-collect will only be able to operate for essential and certain non-essential retail only.
‘This means that, from Saturday, car showrooms and dealerships will not be allowed to offer click-and-collect services, but will still be allowed to deliver vehicles direct to customers.’
However, the SMMT later appeared to back away from those sentiments, telling Car Dealer it was still attempting to seek ‘urgent clarification’ from the Scottish government.
It is understood the Scottish Motor Trade Association is trying to do the same.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes added: ‘The Covid situation is extremely worrying and the need to restrict public movements is understandable and essential.
‘During the lockdown, automotive retailers have been able to operate click and collect services which have been undertaken safely given the wide range of Covid-secure measures in place at car showrooms, the low footfall, appointment basis and the outdoor environment.
‘This service is critical to the provision of essential mobility for consumers, businesses and essential services and fundamental to the continued operation of manufacturing.
‘The Scottish government has been keen to keep manufacturing open and has deemed the collection of a new vehicle a “reasonable excuse to go out” which we hope can continue.’
For those businesses allowed to continue, Sturgeon said ‘staggered appointments’ will be needed to end queuing, as well as not allowing people inside premises.
‘I know that businesses affected by this change will be disappointed and that many have gone to great lengths to make services as safe as possible,’ she said.
‘But we must reduce as far as is possible the reasons people have just now for leaving home and coming into contact with others.
‘I welcome the actions of those businesses that have voluntarily suspended click-and-collect and tightened their procedures in relation to face coverings.’
She also said that Scotland’s lockdown restrictions appeared to be having an effect, with the rise in new daily cases seen around the turn of the year having slowed down.
However, the first minister said there was ‘no room for complacency’, adding: ‘It is too soon to be entirely confident that the situation is stabilising.
‘Even if it is, this will only be because of lockdown – it is not, unfortunately, an indication that it is safe to ease it yet in any way.’
The non-essential exceptions for click-and-collect allowed by the Scottish government are clothing and footwear stores, homeware stores, garden centres/plant nurseries, baby equipment shops, electrical goods (including repairs), key cutting and shoe repair shops, and bookstores.
Car dealers are not included in the list, however a note on the government website appeared to suggest that leaving your home was allowed to pick up a car. It is thought this guidance may be out of date and not yet updated to reflect the new rules.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for it to be scrapped for non-essential retailers amid rising Covid infection cases.
John Lewis has already cancelled all click-and-collect services in an attempt to ‘avoid non-essential travel’.
Car dealer bosses have told Car Dealer axeing click-and-collect would be of huge concern.
Car dealers in England have been able to offer click-and-collect services since May 2020.