A spokeswoman for Spar says: “A localised trial in a couple of stores is taking place, but we’ll have more to say in a couple of months.” The scheme, whereby customers can order a new car via an in-store computer, will continue for three months, after which a review of its results will be conducted. Historically the outlook isn’t good. Similar attempts by electrical retailer Comet and supermarket chain Morrisons were both abandoned recently at the end of their trial periods.
Professor Jim Saker, director at Loughborough University, believes there’s little to trouble traditional retailers. “It will take time for the market to move in this direction,” he says. “There will be some people who will purchase cars in this way, but I don’t think the segment is big enough to cause concern.”
A spokesman for Comet admitted its trial was not successful, but was unable to confirm it ended due to carmakers refusing to supply cars to partner Drive Smart. Drive Smart had not returned AM’s calls by the time we went to press.
Morrison’s initiative was tied in with Lookers Group, which set up internet terminals inside three stores for customers to select new cars. Lookers’ chairman Fred Maguire says it succeeded in only raising awareness of the business.