How best to prepare for showrooms reopening

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 figures are based on a weekly poll of 2300 in-market buyers.

Following more than three months of closures, showrooms have now been confirmed to reopen in England and Wales from next Monday.

Our latest industry research shows that dealers are set for a busy period of demand once showrooms reopen, with feedback from 2376 in-market buyers revealing that 25% are looking to purchase a car in the next four weeks, and 26% within the next one-to-three months.

The latest March figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) saw registrations up by 11.5% in March, suggesting that pent-up demand is building in the market.

That pent-up demand has not prevented retailers from continuing to tempt buyers through discounts. According to our Target Price mystery shopper data, the average new car cash discount at the end of March stood at 6.89%, or £2825.

Seat was found to offer the highest cash discounts, with an average saving of 14.93% or £4194, followed by Renault (12.55%) and Nissan (12.23%). Premium brands including BMW (8.44%), Volvo (7.77%) and Audi (7.43%) were among the top 10 manufacturers with the highest discounts.

Across all car types, diesel cars are available with the highest savings, with a 7.57% average discount, followed by plug-in hybrid cars at 7.00%. Average electric car discounts now stand at 4.24%, or £2309.

Our mystery shoppers also found that several new cars can be had with significant savings. Mercedes-Benz is offering nearly 25% off on its popular C-Class, and the Volkswagen Passat is discounted by more than 20%. Several of the country’s most popular models, including the Nissan Qashqai and Seat Ibiza, are available with discounts of more than 15%.

Aside from keeping up with customer leads, dealers will also need to ensure that their stock levels can match the pent-up demand in the market; 38% of our most recent survey respondents want to have their new car delivered within four weeks of placing an order. If waiting expectations cannot be met, 36% say they will be switching to a vehicle from a different manufacturer with better availability.

Top 12 new car Target Price discounts

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