Covid restrictions across the country – including tough tier 3 measures and the Welsh lockdown – are having little impact on car buyer demand.
Data from Auto Trader which analyses consumer response – including advert views, leads and interactions on maps and locations – shows that even in Wales, where restrictions are toughest, used car demand has not dropped off.
In fact, rather than drop, car dealers in Wales have actually seen their share of used car buyer leads INCREASE.
Welsh dealers have been forced to close their showrooms during the country’s ‘firebreak’ lockdown.
Auto Trader believes this is because car buyers are interacting more online with dealers and points towards more pent up demand for cars when they are allowed to reopen.
Auto Trader said: ‘It suggests that for retailers that have been forced to close their forecourts, consumer demand for click and collect and home delivery services is strong and that there is significant pent up demand for when forecourts do reopen.’
In regions where tier 3 restrictions have been imposed – the toughest currently in England – there is equally strong signs of resilience
Car dealers in the north west – including Manchester and Liverpool – are still seeing strong demand from used car buyers on Auto Trader with advert views up on the same period last year.
The north east, where much of the area is in tier 2 restrictions, dealers have seen demand drop slightly from the same time last year, though.
Commenting on the findings, Auto Trader’s Director of Insight and Data Richard Walker said although the restrictions are impacting some dealers opening, it is clear that demand is still there.
He said: ‘While localised restrictions may become commonplace over the coming months, as we’ve seen in Wales, the strength of the market means the impact on retailers should be contained to these short lock down periods.
‘Outside of these periods, the consumer buying cycle is typically three months and so retailers are still able to benefit from their share of a market which is up significantly on the same period last year.’
And he said Auto Trader had identified ‘pockets of opportunity’ for car dealers in affected areas.
He added: ‘With cases of coronavirus spiking across the UK, and reports of a second wave hitting Europe, it’s hard to predict when further restrictions may be rolled out.
‘However, the market is in a strong position. Not only are we recording sustained high levels of consumer demand, but six months of consecutive price growth is resulting in good profit margins for retailers.
‘Our research is also pointing to new pockets of opportunity, with a growing number of people considering owning a car today to be more important than it was before Covid-19.’
Auto Trader reported a 27 per cent increase in visitors to its website last week with an average of 1.4m unique visitors a day.
In quarter three, the platform recorded a 10 per cent growth in visitors compared with the first quarter.
One dealer in Wales, though, was not convinced the picture was quite that rosy.
White Dove Motor Group boss Richard Hughes said his leads were down and he has had to cut his advertising budget.
He said: ‘Since the lockdown this time last week our franchises have had mixed results – the worst Is 100 per cent down and the best 50 per cent down. It’s not good.’