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Car buyer demand underlined by 20,000 COVID-19 lockdown sales enquiries

Martin Hill, chief executive, Dealerweb

Car retailers are still working to address an “underlying demand that needs to be served”, according to lead management specialist Dealerweb – with 500 car sold by its clients last week alone.

Dealerweb reported that its dealers across the UK have received more than 20,000 enquiries from car buyers since the start of the UK’s COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown on March 23.

Last week alone (starting April 13), the retailers it represents saw over 5,700 enquiries and sold over 500 vehicles, it claimed.

Now Dealerweb is calling for dealers to ensure they act promptly to nurture enquiries to help their businesses recover when lockdown ends.

Chief executive, Martin Hill, said: “Dealers must act now to ensure they are nurturing fresh enquiries, which are vital to post-lockdown sales.

“We should consider that 20,000 new enquiries represent 5,000 vehicle sales, at a 25% conversion rate.

“While many of the cars sold over recent weeks won’t be delivered until after lockdown it is clear that there is an underlying consumer demand that needs to be served.”

Hill’s comments follow advice issued by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which concluded that, while showroom activity is not permitted under Government’s COVID-19 lockdown rules, online sales and vehicle deliveries can still take place.

The NFDA said that the advice, issued to members, was “general guidance only” and “not specific legal advice”, however.

Online car retail provider Cazoo, the subject of an AM dealer profile feature in last month’s (April) magazine, has continued to provide a complete sales process, prioritising deliveries “based on need.”

Hill suggested that, whether car retailers decide to deliver now or await the easing of lockdown measures, they should be responding to leads and continuing to sell cars, if possible.

He said: “If the UK follows the buying trends we are seeing in Wuhan, China, we can expect a strong bounce when lockdown ends.

“Dealers in the region are seeing pent up demand and new buyers as people buy additional vehicles to avoid having to use public transport.”

Dealerweb reports that since March 24 it has seen orders taken for over 600 vehicles.

Hill added: “Now is the time to start putting in place the building blocks for a successful return to trading and hitting the ground running.

“Clearly, we need to do it safely with a focus on our teams, customers and communities, but the customers are there for the dealers that are responsive and proactive.”

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