Number of buyers happy to buy a car without seeing it first falls, despite lockdown

Time 1 year ago

The number of UK drivers willing to pay for a car they haven’t seen first has fallen since last year, new research has found.

Three-quarters of drivers said they would not buy one without viewing it in person, AA Cars found.

An AA-Populus poll of more than 17,100 drivers found a fifth (21 per cent) of Brits have bought a car unseen – a fall from 24 per cent who said last year that they had done so.


Of those who have bought unseen, 62 per cent purchased a brand new car from a dealer, while 38 per cent bought a used car unseen, either from a dealer, a private seller or an online auction site.

Meanwhile, three-quarters (75 per cent) of drivers said they had never bought a car unseen, and never would in the future, rising from 69 per cent in 2019.

The news comes as many dealers had to offer virtual viewings and online car sales during lockdown.

Younger drivers are the most reluctant to buy a car unseen, with 84 per cent of 18-24 year olds and 80 per cent of 25-34 year olds saying they would never purchase one without seeing it in person. This falls to 75 per cent among people aged 35-54.

Meanwhile, women are less willing to buy a car without seeing it first, with 80 per cent saying they would never do so, compared to 73 per cent of men.

In total, four per cent of drivers who had never bought a car unseen said they would consider doing so in the future, falling from five per cent last year.

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, said: ‘It has been widely assumed that more drivers would choose to buy a car unseen if they are unable to visit a forecourt in person.

‘Yet our data from the lockdown period suggests only a minority of drivers would want to buy a car without viewing it first, and shows people still value the reassurance of seeing a vehicle in person before parting with their money.

‘Buyers know they can carry out extensive research online to compare prices and check a car’s history before they choose to buy — but nothing compares to seeing a vehicle up close and getting a feel for it during a test drive.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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