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Uncertainty puts hold on showroom developments

A general slowdown in the building of glitzy flagship dealerships and car retail parks could be a reflection of an industry holding its breath.

Uncertainty over retail car sales in the UK, both from the European price confusion and the increased use of the internet, has led to many manufacturers and retail groups adjusting their development plans until definite buying habits can be evaluated.

Forward thinking groups such as Dixon Motors are placing great emphasis on the new wave of customers buying over the internet. Marketing manager Chris Healey believes it will affect the showrooms of the future. “It's hard to say at the moment just how much impact the internet will have on individual dealerships, but we are definitely incorporating such moves into any future plans and designs,” he said.

Cap Gemini believes that buying decisions are based on a new type of information, with more customers placing great importance on impartial (neutral) views, above all on test drives (87.1%), independent test reports (63.6%), and dealer visits (61.3%).

The internet, with its easy access to data, will better inform potential customers, replacing the need for salespeople to give out promotional literature.

Non-internet users report one-stop shopping, honest and comprehensive information and trade-in allowances for used cars as the most important decision criteria. Internet users rate price and product quality as more important, since extensive, impartial information is easily accessed on the web. They also perceive familiarity with a dealer, trust and personal recommendations as less important.

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