Showrooms need to reopen on April 12 as new and used car sales have slipped and click-and-collect schemes are not working.
That’s the view of Cox Automotive whose latest data revealed the motor trade in the current lockdown 3 isn’t performing as well as it has done before.
Cox says new car sales in February fell by 35.5 per cent compared to the previous year – a decrease of 28,282 vehicles.
Orders for the new ‘21’ number plate in March, usually the industry’s best performing car sales month of the year, were down by as much as 30 per cent, according to over half of the 250 dealers surveyed by the firm.
Dealers are holding onto a surplus of new car stock as a consequence of test drive restrictions, said Cox.
In January, franchised dealers reported 48.9 average days in stock, compared to 42.4 the previous year.
Independent dealers reported 48.8 days, compared to 42.5 in the previous year, and car supermarkets reported 48.1 days compared to 40.6 days in January 2020.
The second lockdown of November to December 2020 saw car sales decrease ‘more gently’, said Cox, and was the motor trade’s best performance in any lockdown period.
Less popular click-and-collect, born out of necessity, will be supplemented hugely by the more standard showroom and test-drive experience that customers are used to
New car sales in November 2020 decreased 27.35 per cent on the previous year and December saw a decrease of 10.95 per cent. Used car sales in November fell by 18.33 per cent and December results recorded a fall of just 4.23 per cent.
Philip Nothard, insight and strategy director at Cox Automotive, said: ‘The data on car sales during the third lockdown makes for difficult reading, but it also provides some optimism.
’70 per cent of dealers report the third lockdown has caused a 10-30 per cent reduction in new car orders, and 17 per cent of dealers have been hit as badly as up to 50 per cent.
‘This highlights why it’s imperative for the industry, that car showrooms reopen on April 12.
‘Thankfully, over half of the dealers we asked believe that economic conditions will improve once the third lockdown ends.’
Nothard added: ‘The opening of car showrooms on April 12 is a real opportunity for dealers to boost sales volumes after a hugely challenging 12 months.
‘April and May could see a surge in new car sales, coinciding with the recent release of the new ‘21’ number plate.
‘Less popular click-and-collect schemes, born out of necessity, will be supplemented hugely by the more standard showroom and test-drive experience that customers are used to.
‘Furthermore, consumer spending in 2021 could well shift to the car market, since other large-scale purchases such as holidays abroad, continue to be surrounded by risk and uncertainty.’
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