New car orders were down by 5% in the first two weeks of March, when compared to same period last year, as dealers enhanced their digital retailing during lockdown.
A study from lead management business Dealerweb suggests strong conversion rates are being achieved despite overall enquiries falling by 14% for new cars and 7% for used.
The data also shows the average price of a new vehicle sold in March increased from £29,615 to £33,546 for new vehicles and from £18,172 to £20,657 for used.
James Hill, managing director of Dealerweb, said: “Dealers and their partners have worked hard to transform the digital retail experience over the past 12 months. It has enabled customers to buy a vehicle remotely with confidence and the minimum of fuss.
“Going forward, dealers will reap the benefits of providing a seamless online and dealership retail experience.”
The number of deals completed using Dealerweb’s e-signature technology, which enables contracts to be signed in a contact-free way, has doubled in the last quarter
Auto Trader says consumer confidence is reaching new heights and dealers are trading at 90% of normal volumes during lockdown 3.0.
The online automotive marketing giant said that data related to the number of vehicles removed from the platform during the first week of the month showed that car sales performance was just 10% down, despite the ongoing coronavirus restrictions on trading.
However, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) believes car dealers should be braced for “a third, successive dismal new plate month” in March after a 35.5% decline to the UK’s new car registrations in February.
While the SMMT acknowledged that car retailers’ shift to online orders and click and collect had provided “a lifeline” for the sector, it has once again revised its new car market forecast to 1.83 million registrations in 2021, down from the 1.89m predicted in January.
Most of these losses are expected to occur in March, it said.