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Retail confidence dips

More than half of retailers (55%) believe carmakers are exerting greater control over their businesses, according to a new survey.

One expert says pressure by carmakers on dealers to meet monthly sales targets – including pre-registering to meet bonuses – could be behind the findings.

The Vehicle Remarketing Solutions (VRS) survey also reveals that confidence in the new car market is lower than used. Just 9% feel their confidence in new cars has increased over the past six months, while 27% say confidence has fallen. In contrast, for used cars 23% say confidence has increased, 21% decreased.

“It is no surprise that confidence in new car sales is down,” says Mike Pilkington, VRS managing director. “Businesses as well as consumers are concerned about the economic climate, falling house prices and rising interest rates. Also the second plate of the year is increasingly a non-event. It is meaningless for consumers.”

Pilkington puts the used car confidence down to demand outstripping reduced supply from September trade-ins. He also cites a “significant” number of fleet extensions that have curtailed used car volumes, although analysis from Manheim Auctions suggests fleets are returning to the three-year/60,000-mile cycle.

Jim Saker, Professor of Retail Management at Loughborough University, says: “The results reflect the end-of-September race for market share, and the pressure manufacturers put on dealers to accept stock.”

VRS polled 110 franchised and 90 non-franchised dealers.

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