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Car buyers’ consumer confidence three times higher than in first lockdown

Consumer confidence among in-market car buyers is three times higher than during the UK’s first COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown during H1 2020, a What Car? survey has found.

The consumer magazine asked a total of 2,939 in-market buyers about their intentions for the coming weeks as part of a survey conducted last weekend and found that 20.4% are looking to buy a vehicle in the next four weeks, while 24.6% are set to purchase a car within one to three months.

The results compare favourably with those from last year’s March lockdown, when just 3.5% were looking to buy within four weeks, and 8% between one and three months.

What Car? said that its data had proved “painfully accurate”, with sales down by 97.3% in April 2020.

Speaking to AM immediately after last week’s return of new COVID-19 lockdown restrictions across the UK, many car retail sector leaders suggested that the market’s fate in the coming weeks – maybe even the crucial March number plate change period – rested on the confidence of consumers.

Other findings from last weekend’s What Car? car buyer survey showed that 54% said they were not looking to postpone their purchase until lockdown restrictions are lifted, but will buy regardless of showroom closures.

In the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) new car registrations results for 2020, chief executive Mike Hawes and National Franchised Dealers Association chief executive, Sue Robinson, led praise for car retailers.

They acknowledged that operators had worked hard to adapt to online trading and click and collect services and had made their showroom environment safe for periods when customers were permitted to enter in accordance with social distancing rules.

While Vertu Motors’ Robert Forrester was among retailers who expressed concern about the current restrictions affect on test drives, What Car? survey data suggested that many car buyers are willing to transact remotely.

Responses to its October market research showed that 35.2% of buyers would be comfortable buying their next car online and in the latest survey that number has risen to 42.9%.

Nine out-of-10 buyers also said they would be comfortable picking up their new model via a ‘click and collect’ type service.

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