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Car dealers should be braced for ‘massive pent-up’ demand post-lockdown

Car dealers across the UK should be braced for “massive pent-up” demand from customers when the current COVID-19 ‘Lockdown 3’ restrictions are eased, according to Buyacar.

While the Bank of England warned last month that 70% of consumers will hold on to any savings they managed to accrue during lockdown – private savings accounts were up £125bn in 2020 – the online car retail platform has said that its data indicated the market was poised for a rapid return.

Reflecting on a trend that has seen commuters move away from public transport in favour of more COVID-safe ways to travel, a recent Buyacar survey found that 86.4% of its website users intend to stick with their own vehicle after lockdown.

BuyaCar experts also believe that demand for used cars in particular will be boosted by the unusually low mileages on thousands of 2020 cars which have been parked for much of the past 12 months, making them more desirable.

Christofer Lloyd, Editor of BuyaCar.co.uk, said: "Last year we saw the release of massive pent-up demand at the end of the first lockdown but our latest research suggests that demand will be even higher this year.

"This is because many people are now explicitly stating that they would prefer to use their cars when restrictions are eased, rather than other modes of travel, as the simplest way to ensure effective social distancing.

"More car use is guaranteed to spur more demand for cars, in our view, helped by a strong supply of attractively low mileage models in particular.

“With such a wide choice of barely used 2020 models, choosing a nearly new model over a much more expensive brand new car has never made more sense than it does now."

Earlier this month the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) joined in called for “COVID-safe” car showrooms to be reopened “as soon as restrictions are eased”.

Predictions of a strong return to trading after an easing of Lockdown 3 restrictions have already been aired by Auto Trader.

Yesterday, the results of a Motor Ombudsman survey of 1,873 motorists revealed that 62% would want to visit a car showroom in person before buying a new car, possibly indicating that a tide of pent-up demand will reach dealerships when ‘Lockdown 3’ ends.

Buyacar said that its data showed how car dealers were swamped with customers as pent-up demand for cars was released when last year's first lockdown ended in June.

The platform recorded a 70% increase in registered customers and a 45% hike in cars ordered from the site for home delivery.

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