We all know Lockdown 3.0 restricts non-essential services and retails. Car dealers affected by COVID-19 had to move to alternative selling options such as contactless orders and deliveries.
But the worry of car dealers that the consumer demand would fall significantly was subdued after research shows the used car buyers are out searching for their next vehicle. Let’s have a look at some of the reports that suggest the used car market is still at large in lockdown 3.
eBay Motors Group, What Car, & Auto Trader’s Take on Used Car Market
Auto Trader UK reports that searches related to used-cars have taken a jump ever since Boxing Day. ‘What Car’ also reveals that they received increased traffic on its platform. eBay Motors Group also witnessed a higher number of users on their services. It shows the used vehicle buyers are not worried about the lockdown and are looking to purchase their next ride.
eBay Motors Group’s Research
eBay Motors Group also disclosed that in the first week of the latest lockdown, they witnessed 18 per cent higher leads year on year basis. However, in December last year, the group was slightly below the market average with a 20 per cent rise year-on-year. The company believes just a 2 per cent fall under lockdown is still a remarkable figure for auto traders.
Marc Robinson, the external sales boss at eBay Motors Group, presented their Market View analysis. He said the used car segment took a great start even under the lockdown 3.0 in England. Car dealers did an amazing job advertising their click-and-collect operations that caused a boost in the volume of leads. It shows car dealers’ dedication to upholding the sector even under strict COVID-19 limitations across the UK. The dealers send a clear message to used car buyers – lockdown does not mean vehicle trading would cease.
eBay Motors Group also identified several other trends. Used car buyers prefer email to communicate over phone calls to contact car dealers. The group also revealed that Scotland took the lead in the online search activity related to used-cars after entering the most severe COVID-19 limitations on Boxing Day. The reason behind this is that Scotland’s restrictions began a week before England’s lockdown 3, giving people more time to adjust.
Auto Trader’s Point of View
Catherine Faiers, COO of Auto Trader, also threw light on the reasons to be optimistic in a Live Car Dealer interview. According to Auto Traders survey, the affordability level of used car buyers is still the same, and they witnessed a relatively low drop in confidence. The company also studied how important owning a car is to consumers. The percentage leapt to 35 in December last year, showing that vehicle ownership is more crucial to these consumers now than before COVID-19.
Reports from What Car? also show that the number of searches made by used car buyers during the lockdown is relatively high. We can expect vehicle trading activity to see a notable surge after the pandemic is over. Haymarket Automotive confirms a similar trend after managing director Rachael Prasher revealed that their data shows many purchasers searching online for their next car.
Used car buyers study their options and wait for a perfect point to make a purchase. Motors.co.uk discloses that vehicle views by prices remained the same as in December last year during the lockdown. Buyers’ searches for vehicles priced between £10,000 and £30,000 were 11 per cent more than last year while browsed vehicles priced below £5,000 were 13 per cent less than in 2020.
Parkers’ Input on Used Car Trading
Automotive magazine Parkers also conducted research related to used-vehicle trading under lockdown three restrictions. The magazine reports that more than one-third of the car buyers have intentions to purchase their next vehicle as soon as possible.
The research further unfolded that 36 per cent of used car buyers were planning to purchase their next vehicle while 57 per cent of them showed a desire to buy as soon as lockdown lifts.
Parkers have also committedly studied vehicle shoppers’ attitude to online buying and selling during COVID-19. The site’s 92 per cent users actively participate in buying cars. Moreover, people find home delivery service more convenient than the click-and-collect option. Back in April 2020, people’s percentage willing to purchase a vehicle online was 12. It has seen a notable rise, as now 27 per cent prefer to buy a car online.
Keith Adams, Parkers’ editor, believes that lockdown 3.0 will not hinder people from pursuing their car-buying intentions. The online system makes it easier for private car buyers to search for different models, compare the specifications, and pick the one they like the most. Parkers deem that car dealerships would make more out of remote selling starting from March 2021. The reason is customers are more aware now.
What is the Lockdown 3.0 Rules for Car Dealerships?
COVID-19 restrictions require car dealerships to close, as they do not fall under essential retail. It means you cannot go to a dealership and browse cars physically. Most car dealers have opted for an online system that involves online browsing of cars and contactless delivery. How it has impacted the UK’s automotive industry, you can find here.
What if You Live Outside England?
The lockdown limitations are quite the same in Wales and Scotland as in England. They would remain in place shortly.
In Wales and Scotland, you can book a car online and then visit the dealership to pick it up. Given the handovers are taking place outdoors. The government stiffened lockdown restrictions in Scotland on 16th January 2021. However, visiting the dealership to pick up your new vehicle is an exemption. Dealers can also display outdoor car lots to such an extent as is necessary to facilitate the collection of cars.
Are you unsure of what vehicle is best for use? Here’s Caranalytics’ guide for second-hand car buyers. The blog listed the best-used cars in the UK in 2020.
Is the Online Vehicle Purchase Safe for You?
While online car purchasing sounds safe, you should still bear a couple of things in mind. Please make sure the delivery is contactless, and the dealership thoroughly cleans the vehicle before delivering it. You must maintain a safe distance at the time of vehicle handover.
Furthermore, ensure the employee handing over the vehicle is wearing satisfactory personal protection equipment. Inside the car, request your dealership to install protective covers on high-contact areas such as door handles, gear stick, and front seat.
One thing is evident in light of all the surveys and data collected from car-buying sites. The lockdown has not impacted the purchasing power of the used vehicle buyers. Besides, they are more willing to buy online, considering they can call car inspection and vehicle check services effortlessly.