Ian Plummer, Auto Trader Commercial Director, comments on the quarter one used car sales data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT):
“There’s no denying that the first quarter of 2020 has been a turbulent one – more so than the used car industry has felt before. The start of the quarter was looking positive, as consumer confidence had started to pick up after last year’s BREXIT uncertainties. January had started well and as a traditionally large month for used car sales boded well for the remainder of the quarter. Despite lockdown, as a result of the global pandemic, only impacting 9 days of sales, that was enough to dent the number for the overall quarter.
“Encouragingly although figures for traditional combustion engines are down, transactions of used plug-in vehicles are actually up compared with a year ago. This is good news; uptake of greener vehicles is on the rise and shows that more people are adopting more environmentally friendly cars, a trend that we could see accelerate further as we emerge from lockdown.
“Although the majority of retailers’ businesses have been halted by the UK lockdown, our research indicates that the market is paused, not stopped, as many consumers are eager to buy their next car when they can. Research we conducted recently revealed that 84% weren’t expecting affordability issues, and only 2% said that they’ve been put off buying a car altogether. There are likely to be new areas of market opportunity too as more than half of commuters previously using public transport, and who have a driving licence, expect to buy a car for their commute post lockdown as they seek safety in their own personal space. Therefore, it’s is essential that retailers are poised to reopen their doors, with enhanced health and safety measures yes, but also with the right stock at the right price. Crucially, this does not mean slashing prices; maintaining prices in line with market valuations will help the used car industry recover together as one.
“Moving forward, retailers will need to show consumers that they are adhering to the new social distancing guidelines as well as the health and safety measures to instil confidence that if they turn up to a forecourt, it’s safe to do so. Even more key will be to have a sophisticated digital offering, allowing potential buyers to conduct a virtual walk round / test drive of a car, put down a deposit online and arrange safe home delivery of a vehicle. We’ve developed the tools to allow retailers to surface these offering on their adverts, and they’ll go live as showroom are allowed to reopen.”
About Auto Trader
Auto Trader Group plc is the UK and Ireland's largest digital automotive marketplace. Auto Trader sits at the heart of the UK's vehicle buying process and its primary activity is to help vehicle retailers compete effectively on the marketplace in order to sell more vehicles, faster. Auto Trader listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2015 and is now a member of the FTSE 100 Index.
The marketplace brings together the largest and most engaged consumer audience. Auto Trader has over 90% prompted brand awareness and attracts circa 50 million monthly cross platform visits each month, with over 70% of visits coming through mobile devices.
The marketplace also has the largest pool of vehicle sellers (listing around 450,000 cars each day). Around 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on autotrader.co.uk.
For more information, please visit https://plc.autotrader.co.uk
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