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Car dealers must show support to cash-strapped customers

Car buyers walk across a dealership forecourt

Car retailers have been urged to show support to cash-strapped car buyers as more than a quarter take longer to assess affordability amid the cost-of living crisis and the viability of alternative fuel vehicles (AFV).

Research conducted among 2,000 car buyers by eBay Motors Group found that 27% expect to spend more time searching for next car, with their main concerns around rising prices of new and used cars.

Overall consumers spend 42 days on the car search process and Lucy Tugby, marketing director of eBay Motors Group said that it was important for retailers to show understanding to customers nervous about committing to a car purchase against a backdrop of pressure on household finances.

Lucy Tugby, marketing director of eBay Motors Group“Our research reveals how pressure on consumer spending means a significant number of buyers will spend longer in the market searching for their next car as they carefully consider their options,” said Tugby.

“With buyers still spending an average of six weeks searching for their next car, it’s important that sales staff appreciate how hard they have already worked and support them in the later stages when leads turn into showroom visits.”

Affordability was a key area of debate when eBay Motors chief operating officer Phill Jones appeared on the AM News Show alongside Waylands Automotive CEO John O’Hanlon.

And Jones acknowledged that, for many car buyers, a new vehicle is a necessity. He said: “You’ve still got 70 to 80% of people that are buying a car because they have to. People do have to fundamentally change their car.”

The latest eBay Motors Group’s Consumer Insight Panel research revealed that 44% of survey respondents felt rising car prices would mean a longer car search, with the need to assess running costs (34%) and a willingness to search online for the best possible deal (34%) also key considerations.

More than a quarter (28%) said that considerations around a potential switch into an electrified vehicle would also play a part.

Women buyers average just 38 days searching, compared to men at 46 days, while those looking to purchase new expect to spend 45 days searching, compared to 40 days for used.

With long lead times still affecting the supply of some new models, the research also found four in 10 buyers (44%) are prepared to wait until the car they want becomes available.

However, nearly two-thirds (64%) will consider used alternatives, although the preference for sub two-year-old nearly new cars is much stronger (48%) than for cars over two-years-old (16%).

Tugby said: “With some makes and models still facing long delays and nearly new alternatives in short supply, dealers have an opportunity of opening up conversations with some new car buyers about suitable alternatives from their used car inventories.”

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