Car dealers have reported strong sales from keen customers on the first day of showrooms reopening in England.
Yesterday (June 1) saw dealerships in England open for the first time in 10 weeks.
Car dealers were part of a second phase of the easing of lockdown announced by Boris Johnson last month.
Will Blackshaw, managing director of Blackshaws – which holds Suzuki and Mitsubishi franchises – told Car Dealer Magazine: ‘We had started with workshop work in early May and started click and collect mid-May, so yesterday was just the next step to opening. Business was buoyant and it felt like there was lots of energy and excitement.’
Blackshaw expressed caution though for the weeks ahead.
He said: ‘Web traffic continues to grow but I feel we need to be cautious as we are dealing with quite a lot of pent up demand and I think it will steady off.
‘I hope we can continue a clear digital message that we are open with new contactless purchasing message to stir interest in buying a car for those whom hadn’t thought about it.
‘Those who were ready to buy will buy and will do so quickly. It’s now a case of trying not to spend a lot of money and going at 100mph and trying to force sales.’
Sean Kelly, managing director of Vines Group, said business yesterday was better than expected.
He told Car Dealer: ‘We had 172 new service bookings and 150 sales leads logged in the business. Phone calls in were well beyond a Pre-Covid as we had a busy day with customers.
‘Our aftersales and used car enquiries were high. I think it will remain busy for the rest of this week, but will fall back to a new norm which may be lower than our trend over the last few years.
‘However, I think we will be around 25 per cent down on new cars this year, without a stimulus from the government, either scrappage scheme or VAT reduction.’
Vertu Motors CEO, Robert Forrester, tweeted with just over an hour to go before the close of business, yesterday: ‘We have sold over 300 retail cars today on the first day of showroom opening! This likes a great day for the group! #weareback’
By the end of the day, Vertu had clocked up 426 cars sales.
Jamie Caple, CarQuay boss, told Car Dealer Magazine: ‘May has been one of the best ever experiences personally in the motor trade. It has been complete bliss.
‘We’ve sold bucket loads of cars, have only had customers on site for click and collects and not in the showroom at all, the sun has been beautiful, we’ve had BBQs, summer tunes playing, everyone has been extremely productive and it’s been amazing. Even the screamers have been lovely. I never wanted the month to end.’
Meanwhile, Trade Centre Group reported ‘brisk’ trade and notched up 213 car sales, recording their busiest ever Monday of trading outside of a bank holiday.
Its three England-based dealerships slashed prices by up to £3,000 in an ‘Emergency Car Clearance’.
Andy Coulthurst, CEO, said: ‘Despite claims to the contrary, used car values have dropped significantly during lockdown, as the wholesale market reopens a significant gap will emerge in pre/post lockdown pricing across the board.
‘We will clear all existing stocks quickly, passing tremendous value on to our customers whilst simultaneously replenishing our showrooms at fresh market prices.’
The car’s clearance sale was promoted widely across TV, radio, outdoor and on the web.
‘The transformation once the media kicked in was jaw dropping,’ he said. ‘We have seen more customers online in the last few days than we would see during a January sale.’
There are concerns, however, the June 1 reopening is a minor blip in an otherwise depressed market.
On the same day, Marshall Motor Group announced it would be making a loss for the first half of 2020, and Pendragon warned some tough decisions lay ahead for some of its showrooms.
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