Scottish car dealers are celebrating being given the green light from the first minister to reopen on April 5 and believe this could lead to a bumper sales month.
The stay-at-home order in Scotland will be removed on April 2 and from then other restrictions will gradually be lifted, as was announced by first minister Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon.
From that date Scots will be advised instead to ‘stay local’ for an initial period, which the first minister said she hoped would be for less than three weeks.
From April 5, click-and-collect retail services, along with garden centres, car dealerships, homeware stores and barbers and hairdressers, will also be able to reopen.
Speaking to Car Dealer, Peter Vardy Group chief executive Peter Vardy said he was over the moon and the team are now working towards a record April.
He said: ‘Yahoo is the reaction. We’re over the moon.
‘A record April is now the plan. We’ve already got our reopening plans in place and we’ll just bring those forward and keep everyone safe as we do that.
‘We’re expecting the best April we’ve ever had. Advertising will be at record levels, our stock is already at record levels so now we’re ready to go for it.’
David Wishart, director of Frasers of Falkirk was upbeat and optimistic about the news, saying he also believed April would be a great month for sales.
He said: ‘I expect we’ll see a huge upturn in sales once the shackles have been taken off.
‘I think April will be great and there’s also a school holiday.
Normally, that would be a bad thing for us as everyone goes away but we’re predicting this time with people looking for something to do it’ll be a great opportunity for us.’
He added a note of caution, wary about how restrictions would be lifted, and said: ‘I’m just trying to drill down into the details.
‘If everything goes back to how it was on January 11, with unaccompanied test drives allowed and customers allowed to travel, it’ll be great.
‘However, there’s a lot of nervousness – even from customers happy to do click-and-collect – with people worried about the rules.’
Jim Reid Vehicle Sales owner Jim Reid echoed Wishart’s views on school holidays.
He said: ‘Traditionally April is a quiet month for us and a lot of car dealers in Scotland, but that first week of April is also the first week of the school holidays.
‘People won’t have plans to go on holiday and it sounds like a lot of people will have savings that they’ll be ready to spend.
‘I think, personally, that could play out really well for us.’
He added: ‘[Reopening showrooms] will make a huge difference to us.
‘We’ve done fantastically well and the figures are only back a little from where we’d want to be, but it’ll make life so much easier.’
Scotland will then move out of lockdown and into a ‘modified Level 3’ on April 26.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that the vaccination programme will have reached those most at risk of dying from Covd-19, which ‘will give us confidence to ease restrictions much more significantly from April 26’.
On the same date, travel restrictions across the country will be dropped.
The first minister said: ‘We hope that restrictions on journeys between Scotland and other parts of the UK and the wider common travel area can also be lifted, if not on April 26, then as soon as possible thereafter.’
However, Sturgeon warned against complacency as she announced the easing of restrictions in the coming weeks in Scotland.
The first minister said that while she hopes to be able to lift the stay-at-home order and open retail and hospitality at different points next month, work was still required to ensure cases did not rise.
She said: ‘This is certainly the most hopeful I have felt about the situation for a long time.
‘However, as you would expect, I do need to add a note of caution.
‘I know this is the bit none of us want to hear, but the route back to normality does depend on continued suppression.’
She added: ‘We must continue to suppress it to the lowest level possible.’
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