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Car buyer intention to reach record levels over next three months

A car sale is completed with a handshake

Almost one-in-10 consumers intend to buy a new car in the next three months, according to new data from Deloitte.

The consultancy firm’s Consumer Tracker has reached its highest ever level in terms of automotive buyer intention at a time when many car makers are struggling to supply franchised retailers with sufficient stock to meet demand.

And it suggests that used car prices will continue to be buoyant for some time as many customers turn to the used market to avoid lengthy lead times.

Deloitte’s head of electric vehicles, Jamie Hamilton, said: “Many consumers are emerging from the pandemic with built up savings, having had fewer opportunities to spend over this period. As a result, more consumers than ever before are planning to purchase a car in the quarter ahead.

“However, whether this record-high demand can translate into actual sales remains to be seen, with the ongoing global semi-conductor shortage having put the brakes on the supply of new cars and, subsequently, the number of used cars re-entering the market.

“As a result, consumers looking to buy car in the next quarter will have to contend with longer than usual wait times for new cars, coupled with high prices in the second hand market.”

Deloitte said that consumer sentiment around the state of the UK economy had grown by 23ppts in Q2, compared to the previous quarter.

This confidence is also reflected by UK businesses, it said, with CFO optimism near its highest level in 13 years.

It said that 76% of CFOs anticipate increased hiring in the year ahead – the highest reading in almost seven years.

In its recently published ‘Digitalisation: An Unstoppable Force in Automotive Retailing and Aftersales’ whitepaper, Keyloop said that 35% of consumers had postponed car purchase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this, online sales of vehicles increased to an estimated 2.5 million units (100% growth over 2019 forecasts), it said, and Deloitte’s data suggests that figure is likely to rise still further.

Keyloop’s report canvassed the opinions of over 600 car buyers from six markets across Europe and the Middle East, as well as in-depth interviews from dealerships. 

Consumers returning to the car retail sector in 2021 after delaying purchase will encounter a sales process facilitated by a new omnichannel approach and, often, the option of buying wholly online.

Among its findings, Keyloop discovered that 38% of consumers would be happy to buy a car completely online, without visiting a dealership.

There remains potential for further digital transformation in the aftersales process, according to Keyloop’s findings, with 62% saying they are very positive about booking a service online and 50% preferring to pay for maintenance work via digital methods. 

And in showroom environment, meanwhile, customers said they would like to see the offer of: extended (48-hour) test drives (93%); digital signature capabilities (78%); and personalised digital sales solutions (74%). 

Commenting on the report, Keyloop chief executive Tom Kilroy said: “This study has taught us that the key to success for retailers will be an unrelenting obsession with customer experience – understanding their needs, personalising interactions and eliminating any unnecessary frictions.

“The same applies for the employee experience, which can be greatly enhanced by harnessing the power of digital tools that increase efficiency and improve job satisfaction.”

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