DESPITE the increasingly important role played by the internet in the consumer buying journey, physical dealerships remain key, the latest NFDA Consumer Attitude Survey has revealed.
The seventh edition of the survey involved the polling of 2,000 consumers across the UK.
Its findings revealed that 75 per cent of car purchases, for cars under seven years old, are made at franchised dealers; 14 per cent are made at independent garages; five per cent at used car supermarkets and five per cent from private sellers.
Ninety-three per cent of brand new cars were bought at franchised dealerships.
The survey also found that 50 per cent of consumers visit a car dealership website before purchasing a vehicle. However, surprisingly, 32 per cent of respondents bought a car from a physical franchised dealership without visiting any website run by a dealer, manufacturer or other car sales operation beforehand.
Buyers of prestige brands are significantly more likely to visit manufacturer websites (46 per cent), and engage in research by reading papers and magazines (13 per cent), than those buying volume brands (32 per cent and eight per cent respectively).
The findings showed that 63 per cent of consumers intended to purchase their next vehicle from a franchised dealer showroom and nine per cent from a franchised dealer website.
The figures mirrored the latest statistics from research body ICDP which showed that the number of consumer visits to physical dealerships as well as the total number of dealerships visited by consumers in 2019 were higher than in previous years.
Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA, said: ‘The survey has revealed a growing trend towards online retailing. As a result, a strong digital strategy is vital in today’s market, but consumers continue to see physical dealerships as an essential element of their buying journey.
‘With the range of new vehicles coming to the market and their modern, innovative features, consumers are more likely to want to see a car before they buy it. Additionally, consumers place significant value on their interaction with retailers, where they look for advice and reassurance.
‘It is encouraging to see that retailers continue to play a key role in informing consumers and helping them find the vehicle that best suits their needs.’