Press release

Consumer demand set to continue but a third of car buyers remain cautious of visiting dealers

Half of car buyers comfortable visiting a dealership, but a third remain cautious

At a time when Auto Trader is recording an average of 2.1 million visits to its marketplace every day, its latest consumer research suggests healthy levels of demand in the market is set to continue. Over a third (35%) of circa 6,300 visitors to Auto Trader surveyed[1] said they were planning on purchasing a car in the next three months, and more than half (51%) within the next 12. Highlighting the pent-up demand during the lockdown period, nearly one in five (19%) of consumers said they were intending to buy within the next two weeks.

With car showrooms allowed to reopen in England and Northern Ireland, Auto Trader also assessed how comfortable car buyers were in visiting a dealership in person. Whilst more than half (53%)[2] said they would either be likely (38%) or very likely (15%) to visit, over a third (37%) were unlikely (24%) or very unlikely (13%) to visit.

The research revealed a significant number of consumers want to complete an off-site transaction (over the phone or online) with home delivery - 36%[3] said it would make them feel more comfortable purchasing a vehicle. 19% said home test drives would make the buying experience more comfortable, 14% identified good safety measures implemented at the dealership, and 5% said video test drives. 8% said they wouldn’t be comfortable with any of these measures.

Looking at the motivation behind purchase, the research revealed a 42% of consumers are looking to replace an existing car, whilst 41.5% are buying because they don’t currently have one or because they require an extra vehicle. Interestingly, the research highlighted additional pockets opening as a result of people wanting to avoid public transport, with 16.5% identifying this as their reason for buying a new car.

Commenting on the findings, Auto Trader’s Commercial Product Director, Karolina Edwards-Smajda said: “Whilst it may not remain at the record levels we’re currently observing on our marketplace, it is extremely reassuring to see that a high level of consumer demand is set to continue. The key outtake for us is that whilst demand is high, retailers can’t lose sight of the fact that today’s retail landscape is not the same as it was pre-lockdown - showrooms may have reopened, but that doesn’t mean car buyers want to visit them. There’s been a seismic rebalance of the retail model over the last 11 weeks and the digital forecourt has never been more influential in the car buying journey.”    

[1] Auto Trader on-site survey of 6,388 people conducted 1st – 7th June

[2] Userzoom survey of 300 people 2nd -3rd June

[3] Userzoom survey of 300 people 2nd -3rd June

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