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Lockdown 3.0 has minimal impact on car buying, says Autotrader

The latest national coronavirus lockdown is doing little to deter car buyers, according to the latest data from Auto Trader.

During the first three days of the new year, there was a 7% year-on-year (YoY) increase in visitors to Auto Trader, before taking a slight fall immediately following the announcement on the January 4.

However, with an average of 1.8 million visitors a day recorded during the week ending January 10, levels were still 1.1% higher than the same period last year.

As people adjusted to the latest restrictions, volumes began to increase, with the number of visits reaching a 4.3% YoY growth over the weekend. Despite the disruption, the number of leads being sent to retailers last week remained strong, with volumes increasing 7.4% YoY.

More than half of Auto Trader visitors said they were looking to purchase in the next three months.

Auto Trader’s data and insights director, Richard Walker, said: “The lockdown was not the start to the year any of us were hoping for and unfortunately these new measures across the UK will have a significant impact on everyone’s plans over the next quarter. However, the data does give us reasons to be positive, with clear evidence of strong underlying consumer demand and buying intent.

“As well as being far better prepared to continue selling via click and collect and home delivery over the coming weeks, we’re confident retailers can expect strong levels of demand as we come out of these restrictions.”

Despite the tighter restrictions rolled out across the UK throughout November and December, Auto Trader research revealed that consumers' confidence in being able to afford their next car had reached a 2020 peak.

It found that 43% of users said they were more confident than they were a year ago, and 50% felt about the same. Notably, the percentage of people saying they were less confident, was at its lowest level (7%) since the start of the pandemic. 

Looking specifically at the impact of the government’s latest restrictions, 55% of the 1,466 on site users surveyed last week said they were looking to purchase in the next three months. It marks a significant increase on the 36% of consumers who indicated a three-month timeline when asked the same question in April, and 49% in November. Over a quarter (26%) said they were currently looking to purchase in the next two weeks.

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