Auctions firm Aston Barclay has revealed it’s receiving pressure from vendors to return to physical sales.
Online sales have been well received among its customers the company says, but it’s getting calls from some dealers and buyers to return to pre-coronavirus physical sales.
Consequently, Aston Barclay is considering returning to physical auction sales, it’s told Car Dealer – but only for some types of stock.
The business – as Car Dealer reported earlier this month – followed government guidelines and closed during lockdown.
Since June 15, Aston Barclay’s six sites have reopened and are essentially back up to pre-Covid-19 business levels but without having vendors and buyers packing the auctions halls.
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Speaking on Car Dealer Live, the firm’s managing director – customer, Martin Potter, said: ‘We adopted a policy where all retailers and buyers can view stock prior to sales, but all the sales themselves continue to be online as they were during Covid-19.
‘Not all our staff are back yet but the vast majority are so we are still able to operate and inspect cars onsite, customers can come along and pay and collect and we’ve got our full delivery services available as well. So, everything back to normal apart from cars physically driving through halls.’
Potter explained Aston Barclay is hesitant to reopen its auction halls in fear of creating unnecessary necessary ‘social gatherings’ and risking driving up the ‘R’ coronavirus infection rate.
Buyers and vendors have ‘adapted really well’ to buying and purchasing online and Aston Barclay is even receiving encouragement to carry on with online sales for the foreseeable future.
‘I think buyers have found how easy it is to use the online tools and I think a number of organisations think they’re more productive as a result of being able to log on to numerous sales rather tying a buyer up with one particular centre,’ said Potter.
He added: ‘We’ve had a lot of support in fleet and leasing, the manufacturer area and in the dealer part-exchange young market where the average values are £8,000 or £8,500.
‘Vendors are very very keen to not return to a physical environment because they’re more efficient ad the industry has used Covid-19 to move on into the 21st century.
‘The auction houses offer a very clear inspection, common ground grading, good images and these types of product generally have a lot of providence and they lend themselves to online buying.’
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But not all vendors and buyers like the online sales method and are applying pressure on Aston Barclay to reopen the auction hall lanes.
As a consequence, the company may open up its auction halls to ‘value’ cars driving through and leaving more expensive stock to be sold online.
‘The area where we are getting pressure is the value product that probably that lends itself to some visibility – it might be an area where we look at whether there’s a need for the cars to be seen and be driven through the halls.
‘But it’s only relevant to that 12-, 15-year and older product that’s sub-£2,000 that you can imagine you need to listen to as they’re going through.
‘The other sectors are very supportive and keen for us to carry on online. With us offering the opportunity to view prior to the sale, it give buyers an opportunity to view the cars so there’s less of a necessity.’
You can watch the full interview with Martin Potter at the top of this story