Lockdown 3 is having a minimal impact on consumer demand, Auto Trader data reveals.
The firm said during the first three days of the new year, there was a seven per cent year-on-year (YoY) increase in visitors to is platform, before taking a slight fall immediately following the announcement on January 4.
However, with an average of 1.8m visitors a day recorded during the week ending January 10, levels were still 1.1 per cent higher than the same period last year.
As people adjusted to the latest restrictions, volumes began to increase, said Auto Trader, with the number of visits reaching a 4.3 per cent YoY growth over the weekend.
Despite the disruption, the number of leads being sent to dealers last week remained strong, with volumes increasing 7.4 per cent YoY.
The figures back up comments Auto Trader made in a recent Car Dealer Live show (which you can watch above), where director Catherine Faiers said that while dealers will likely see a 50 per cent drop in business during the current lockdown, there is underlying consumer demand which will likely translate strongly once customers eventually opt to buy.
Auto Trader research shows that despite the tighter restrictions rolled out across the UK throughout November and December, consumers’ confidence in being able to afford their next car had reached a 2020 peak.
Some 43 per cent of on-site users said they were more confident than they were a year ago, and 50 per cent felt about the same.
The percentage of people saying they were less confident, was at its lowest level (seven per cent) since the start of the pandemic.
Looking specifically at the impact of the government’s latest restrictions, 55 per cent of the 1,466 on-site users surveyed last week said they were looking to purchase in the next three months.
It marks a significant increase on the 36 per cent of consumers who indicated a three-month timeline when asked the same question in April, and 49 per cent in November. Over a quarter (26 per cent) said they were currently looking to purchase in the next two weeks.
35 per cent of consumers said that owning a car is more important to them than it was before the pandemic, which is the highest it’s been since Auto Trader began asking the question to consumers in June 2020
In terms of whether the lockdown had directly affected their timeline, almost 60 per cent said it had no impact on their decision (54 per cent) or had made them want to purchase even sooner (five per cent).
Some 15 per cent said they weren’t sure, while 27 per cent of those surveyed said the new rules had made them want to delay their purchase. However, the largest percentage is by three months (42 per cent), which is typical buying behaviour during normal trading conditions, said Auto Trader.
In a separate piece of research conducted in December, 35 per cent of consumers said that owning a car is more important to them than it was before the pandemic, which is the highest it’s been since Auto Trader began asking the question to consumers in June 2020.
Commenting on the findings, Auto Trader’s data and insights director, Richard Walker, said: ‘The lockdown was not the start to the year any of us were hoping for and unfortunately these new measures across the UK will have a significant impact on everyone’s plans over the next quarter.
‘However, the data does give us reasons to be positive, with clear evidence of strong underlying consumer demand and buying intent.
‘As well as being far better prepared to continue selling via click and collect and home delivery over the coming weeks, we’re confident retailers can expect strong levels of demand as we come out of these restrictions.’