Dealerships are still the preferred option for car buyers, according to research from Black Horse in association with YouGov.
Consumers found the overall car buying process a positive experience with 78% recommending visiting a dealership when purchasing a car.
60% of those who took part in the research went to dealerships when they bought their last car, with 32% visiting one dealership, 22% visiting two and an identical proportion visiting three dealerships before buying.
The research also revealed that 19% of buyers changed their mind about the car they wanted to buy after visiting a dealership.
Despite the increased use of the Internet, 55% didn’t believe that the car buying process had changed significantly in the past three years. However, 73% recognised that there is much more use of online tools, with nearly a half acknowledging that there is more choice in where to buy.
Further analysis revealed that dealerships scored highly for most factors when it comes to the overall buying experience, but less so on the level of information they can provide on finance agreements.
Managing director at Black Horse Chris Sutton said: “Car dealerships clearly still fulfill an integral role in the car buying process with most consumers preferring the security of using a dealership and all the other benefits that a dealership can offer in terms of knowledge, variety of cars and competitively priced cars and finance.
“Whilst dealers will be focusing on maintaining strong sales this year they should also ensure that they have appropriate knowledge of finance options available to buyers. Evidently, the major challenge in the industry has been the change of regulator to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) overlooking point of sale finance, which took place earlier last year.
“The new framework has been far reaching and has had a significant impact for both lenders and dealers requiring even better and more transparent dealings with consumers in order to provide better consumer outcomes.
"Whilst there have been many hurdles for the industry as a whole to engage with and implement the FCA rules and guidance, dealers are gradually gaining a better understanding of how to put the rules and guidance into practice. We do see the changes as providing even more trust and transparency to consumers which can only be viewed as a good thing for the industry overall.”