Confidence in the 2020 car retail market was expressed by 98% of respondents to a Close Brothers Motor Finance in a survey to gauge the mood among the sector’s businesses.
The vast majority of retailers told the finance provider’s latest Dealer Satisfaction Survey that they were confident about the outlook for their dealership as 35% admitted to seeing Brexit as the biggest threat to business – a drop from 47% in the previous quarter.
Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents to the survey of 200 new and used car retailers, conducted between October and December 2019, said that they were ‘very confident’ of their prospects during the months ahead.
Sean Kemple, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: “2019 was a challenging year for the motor industry. The 2.4% drop in year on year new sales reflected the impact of Brexit uncertainty continuing to loom over consumer confidence.
“But the results of our Dealer Satisfaction Survey show that hope is far from lost. We’ve driven past the first bump in the Brexit saga, and dealers are excited about the growth of their business and the opportunities for expansion of stock.”
Despite a difficult 2019 for the motor industry, Close Brothers’ findings paint a picture of business optimism.
Dealers cited a range of opportunities in 2020, with 7% expanding their offering to new types of vehicles, namely electric vehicles (EV), and 7% keen to maintain stability.
On the flip side, a tenth (9%) of dealers remain concerned about how economic downturn will affect their business, and 7% worry about stock availability.
Close Brothers said that it had seen used dealerships experience a boost to business among drivers looking to cut costs, a trend expected to continue this year.
With the petrol and diesel ban coming into effect in 2035, all eyes will be on the new government to help stabilise the industry as the market shifts, offering increased investment in infrastructure and clarity on regulation and taxes, it said.
Kemple added: “Car dealers are the backbone of the car industry, so it’s encouraging to see high levels of confidence, but equally vital that they are properly supported.
“When they are, they’re perfectly placed to in turn provide valuable support and expertise to buyers.”