Kerry Finnon, managing director of GRS, says the decline is changing the way retailers buy vehicles.
According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 2002 imports fell by 18 per cent from 1858 units to 1516. The news bucks the trend of recent years where the number of dealers importing vehicles from Europe to meet consumers' thirst for a deal was on the up.
Last year saw a sudden downturn in imports as dealers got less Euros for their pound and imports became more expensive.
“With the publicity of 'rip-off Britain' fading for the time being and the increased costs of European imports having to be passed on to consumers, people are no longer flocking for these vehicles,” Finnon says. He adds this turn around is preventing larger retailers importing huge numbers of European stock.
“Many dealers are turning to alternative methods of buying nearly new vehicles, which they can offer at an attractive price point for customers,” he says.
Another consequence is that many car supermarkets are employing specific vehicle buyers to source stock from the UK market.
Finnon reports that GRS has experienced an increase in trade as customers have returned for increase purchases of nearly-new UK vehicles.
“This is not just the larger customer base with many smaller dealers that purchase one vehicle placing orders once again as they too begin to feel the squeeze,” he says.
“The return to UK buying will continue as the Euro is set to stay buoyant, this presents a real opportunity for dealers to benefit from the continuing demand for nearly-new car in the UK market.”