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Consumer demand for new cars accelerates in April, says Auto Trader

Richard Walker, director of data and insight at Auto Trader

Data from Auto Trader suggests consumer demand for new and used cars is growing rapidly with a third of in-market buyers expected to make a purchase in the next two weeks.

Last week (April 5-11) the number of daily cross-platform visits to Auto Trader averaged at 2.4 million, which is a 38% increase on the same period in 2019, and an 8% increase on the prior week.

The average time spent on Auto Trader also grew ahead of the reopening of physical forecourts: last week, consumers spent an average of 379,339 hours every day on its marketplace, which is a 35% increase on the same week in 2019, and up 11% on the week before.

As a result of this increased activity on site, the average number of leads being sent to retailers by Auto Trader surged, increasing 81% on the same period in 2019.

Richard Walker (pictured), director of data and insight at Auto Trader, said: “As retailers are able to finally fully reopen their forecourts, it really is wonderful to see all of our consumer metrics at such exceptionally high levels.

“It gives us every confidence that over the coming days and weeks, businesses will see strong sales levels, which many of our retailer partners said began first-thing on Monday morning.

“Despite the restrictions, most businesses were close to recording almost normal sales volumes in March; if they’re able to achieve that with just online retailing, we can’t wait to see the success the industry will make with a blended retail strategy in place.”

Auto Trader’s latest on-site consumer sentiment survey, conducted in March, shows that the average number of car buyers intending to purchase within the next three months has seen a similarly positive trajectory, increasing from 57% and 58% in January and February respectively, to 62% in March.

Out of 1,575 car buyers, nearly a third (32%) intend to buy within the next two weeks.

Separate Auto Trader research, conducted last month, suggests some of the increased demand is being driven by the growing importance of car ownership as a result of COVID-19. More than a quarter (27%) of the circa 800 consumers surveyed agreed that owning a car is more important to them today than it was before the pandemic, which is a slight increase on the 25% recorded in February.

Auto Trader says this should provide retailers with confidence that the strong levels of consumer demand being recorded is likely to continue for some time to come.

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