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Two-thirds of car buying decisions unaffected COVID-19, says What Car?

Steve Huntingford, What Car?

A survey of over 2,100 in-market car buyers conducted by What Car? heard that 66% felt their purchasing decision had been completely unaffected by the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

The What Car? research also found that 3% of buyers were actually prompted to bring forward their decision to buy a car, while 5% bought a car during the pandemic with no intention of buying one before.

The findings comes as dealers in England reopen their showrooms, following the lifting of ‘Lockdown 2’ restrictions imposed by the UK Government to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

What Car? also found 16% of in-market buyers are still aiming to buy a vehicle before the year is over, while 22% are looking to buy in the next three months. Another 22% are also looking to purchase within the next six months.

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “With year-to-date sales down by 31.0% so far, the industry has faced one of the toughest years on record.

“What our findings show is that while sales are down by nearly a third, this isn’t all entirely down to a lack of demand, but rather the fact that dealers have not been able to open showrooms for four months of the year.

“As showrooms in England can now reopen for the second time, the signs are that most car buyers have held off rather than postpone and will now be looking to pay a visit.”

Less than a month ago AM reported on a survey conducted by Parkers which found that increasingly stringent COVID-19 mitigation measures across the UK had failed to deter car buyers, with 95% still ‘in-market’.

A total of 47% of respondents told Parkers website said that ‘Lockdown 2’ measures, which have led to the enforced closure of showrooms across England, had not affected their drive to buy a vehicle “as soon as possible”.

Parkers editor, Keith AdamsSpeaking at the time, Parkers editor, Keith Adams said: “This is good news for an embattled motor trade – unlike in April and May, when sales fell off a cliff, the rise in online car buying will at least maintain strong sales while there are still social restrictions in place.”

As dealers emerge from Lockdown 2, What Car? has announced this week that it will support franchised car retailers recover lost aftersales revenues by delivering three months’ subsidised access to SecretService, powered by BookMyGarage.

The platform is intended to drive valuable Segment 2 & 3 aftersales conquest customers into dealerships.

BookMyGarage recently passed the four million mark of motorists comparing MOT and service prices to book at its 9,000 strong network of independent and franchised workshops. 

Rachael Prasher, the managing director of What Car?“A thriving retail sector is central to What Car?’s growth strategy,” explained Rachael Prasher, managing director of Haymarket Automotive and What Car?.

“SecretService not only drives customers who would not normally consider a franchised workshop over an independent garage or fast-fit, back into the main dealer network, but it increases exposure to future vehicle sales leads.”

Karen Rotberg, co-founder of BookMyGarage, said: “The fast-fit and independent sector still retains nearly two thirds of the UK’s aftermarket spend and one of the main reasons is that 4+ year old vehicle owner continues to have a perception that main dealer workshops will be more expensive than independents.

“We’ve demonstrated that we are levelling that playing field and taking back market share.”

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