Auto Trader’s commercial director, Ian Plummer, comments on the latest new car performance
“The market might be down, but given the circumstances of closed dealerships for virtually the entire month, it’s hugely impressive, and highlights the rapid adoption of digital retailing amongst car buyers and sellers alike. In a recent study we did, the number of consumers who’d consider buying a car completely online increased from 37% in August 2019, to 41% a year later.
“It represents a small but significant development for the industry which has enabled retailers to drive sales in exceptionally challenging conditions. Over 10,000 retailers are currently promoting their buy online services on our marketplace, with circa 350,000 cars available to buy via click and collect or home delivery. Digital retailing will be key to converting the high levels of consumer demand that we continue to track in the market; despite dealership closures and tightening restrictions, we recorded 52.9 million visits to Auto Trader last month, which is a 14.4% increase on November 2019. We’re also recording new pockets of opportunity, not least the growing aversion to public transport; our research conducted last month shows that 71% of consumers who used public transport for commuting won’t use it when they return to work, which is three percentage points higher than when we first began tracking it in the summer.
“Along with the reports we’re hearing from our retailer partners regarding the relatively robust levels of natural retail ordertake as opposed to “tactical” registrations, these metrics offer us a positive outlook for the months ahead. However, retailers can ill afford to take their foot off the gas. 53% of consumers who buy in January do their research in December, therefore getting stock in front of today’s browsers will be essential to ensuring the industry starts 2021 in the very strongest position to capitalise on the most profitable period of the year.
“We also have our fingers crossed that we end up with favourable trading agreements following our exit from the EU on 1st January, as any increases in duties will almost certainly result in higher retail prices for consumers – which given the already tough landscape is something the industry can ill afford.”