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Franchised car retailers remain sector's ‘most trusted’ dealers, survey finds

Car buyers returning to the market following a series of COVID-19 lockdowns have told What Car? that they trust franchised car retailers more than their competitors – including new online disruptors.

The consumer automotive magazine surveyed 1,571 car buyers and found that 94% of respondents were either “very” or “fairly confident” in buying their next used car from a franchised dealer, compared with 63% from a car supermarket, 55% from an independent dealer and 20% from an online-only provider.

What Car? said that the “relative lack of confidence in buying online” came despite reasonable awareness of Cazoo, cinch and Carzam, with more than half of respondents had heard of at least one of the three online car retailers.

NFDA chief executive, Sue RobinsonNational Franchised Dealers Association chief executive, Sue Robinson, said: “It is extremely positive that consumers continue to see franchised dealers as the most trustworthy place to buy their next used car; these findings indicate the crucial role that franchised dealers play in the buying process alongside the significant growth of online sales.

“Over the past twelve months, franchised dealers have demonstrated their resilience, adapted, and accelerated their digitalisation processes to meet consumer demand online and through click and collect.

“Going forward, as the market transition to zero-emission vehicles continues, retailers will be playing a crucial role to instil in motorists the confidence they need to switch to types of vehicles they may be less familiar with.”

The used car market has accelerated fast since the easing of COVID-19 ‘Lockdown 3’ restrictions across most parts of the UK in April, with some retailers telling AM that they are unable to stock their forecourts fast enough.

Today (May 26) buyacar reported that, despite a continued rise in used car values amid stock shortages, buyers are turning their attention to more premium models.

As its average buying prices surpassed £17,000 for the first time, German premium brands dominated its top five best-seller rankings.

Buyacar’s most popular model, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, meanwhile, has seen a 15.8% increase in the average price paid by a customer in just four months.

In a survey of car buyers following last year’s H1 lockdown, JudgeService indicated that effective communication of COVID-19 safety measures in car retail would be key to attracting customers back to showrooms.

Neil Addley, managing director at JudgeService, said: "As dealerships begin to re-open, the focus has to be on reassuring customers that safety is a priority. It’s also imperative that companies react to the rise in demand for online sales and service bookings.”

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