We may be heading for another full lockdown but the car industry is pretty much ‘match fit’ for the constantly changing trading environment, according to Cazana.
Coronavirus is continuing to have a major effect on the country and the economy, says director of insight Rupert Pontin in his latest weekly pricing bulletin, with the mutated variant dealing a further blow to consumer confidence.
In addition, another full lockdown is very possible early in 2021, but car dealers who concentrated on bringing in online sales processes this year stand ready to capitalise on the shift to digital trading, he said.
‘It is fair to say that all things considered the economy and consumer confidence is going through a particularly difficult period.
‘The last few weeks and specifically the last seven days have posed some really challenging questions to a weary business community and the more disillusioned retail consumer.
‘However, the automotive sector remains fairly lively, and from a business perspective car retailers in many cases are “match fit” to trade effectively in this new and ever-changing environment.’
He adds: ‘Mouse-to-house solutions have never been so important for the industry, and the perceived threat of the new online retailers such as Cazoo and Cinch to the traditional car sales function has become an ever-present reality.
‘With new car sales struggling, the used car sector has been through a period of greater volatility in the last few weeks.
‘A number of predominantly sales-based staff have remained on furlough and look set to stay out of the showrooms for the foreseeable future.
‘The fact that the furlough scheme has been further extended should give a clue as to the government’s expectations of a timescale back to normality.’
The car check and valuation service’s analysis of figures for the week beginning December 14 showed that retail prices dropped by 0.25 per cent on the previous week as a whole.
This, said Pontin, suggested that the industry was getting more comfy about digital trading conditions.
The largest movement over the week was for part-ex retail pricing, which registered a 1.26 per cent fall, and Pontin commented on its significance, saying: ‘This is an important shift, as this profile of cars represents a touch over 25 per cent of the total retail advertised vehicle parc and translates to a downward move of £190 per car where the average retail price is £15,072.’
Just two profiles enjoyed an increase in average retail price – ex-PCP at 0.95 per cent and ex-fleet at 0.38 per cent, with Pontin highlighting the ex-PCP uplift as ‘encouragingly positive’.