Get ready for the rush: 59% of in-market car buyers move purchasing plans to expected dealership reopening date of April 12

This is the latest report in a series of weekly updates for industry colleagues from Rachael Prasher, managing director of What Car? and Haymarket Automotive. Quoted poll data is from more than 2300 users.

Expectations of a huge surge in car-buying when non-essential retail in England reopens have grown again, according to the latest weekly What Car? study of car buyers.

According to the latest poll of 2359 people, 59% of those looking to buy in the next four weeks, or in one to three month’s time, said they would reorganise their new-car shopping to coincide with when they can visit a retailer, now that the Government’s route out of lockdown points to them reopening from April 12.

The survey also indicated that there is a strong pipeline of pent-up demand that will carry on through to at least June, with those looking to buy in the next four weeks, or in one to three months time, making up 43% of those polled.

Underlining the scale of disappointment at the dashed hopes that car dealers may have been able to open ahead of other essential retail, 15% of our respondents who were looking to buy within three months said they would now buy online instead of waiting for showrooms to reopen. However, 26% said the announcement did not impact their buying plans – they were either already set to buy online (9%) or were thinking of buying after April 12 (17%) anyway.

The disappointment among potential car buyers that dealers wouldn’t be allowed to open until at least April 12 was also evident: 44% of the 2359 polled disagreed with the decision to keep retailers closed for the next six weeks. This follows last week’s What Car? research, which found that 95% of in-market buyers feel comfortable visiting their local dealer when they’re allowed to do so, with the same percentage trusting that showrooms can be run in a Covid-safe way.

However, the certainty of the path out of lockdown, and the mooted April 12 re-opening date for dealerships, has prompted 48% of all respondents to say that they have increased their vehicle research and purchase planning.

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