News: Buyers take control as lockdown eases

Rachael Prasher, managing director of What Car? and Haymarket Automotive, analyses our latest poll results from more than 6000 consumers.

Coronavirus continues to dramatically influence consumer behaviour, according to our latest poll of 6425 in-market car buyers. The poll highlights a mix of opportunity for those who are ready to capitalise and potential pain points for those who are not.

What’s clear is that, for some, lockdown and ongoing restrictions have provided an opportunity to save money that they now wish to spend.

Our poll indicates that budgets have increased for one in five new car buyers, with 12.5% of those admitting they will now be looking at upgrading and choosing a more premium brand than before.

Where they spend that money is less certain, though. The indicators clearly point towards a buyer’s market, with competition to win customers fiercer than ever.

More than 52% of respondents report that their shortlist of cars being researched and considered has got longer since lockdown. Nearly a fifth (17%) have four or more cars under consideration, while 35% have at least three.

In contrast, just one in seven buyers on our site have a singular, laser-focused mindset on one model that they are confident that they will buy – but, intriguingly, most say they will only make the purchase when the time is right for them.

Throughout lockdown, there was evidence from our polling that the buyer expected to be more in control of their deal than ever once showrooms opened, and that attitude is now even more prevalent. Although personal parameters vary, the majority of in-market buyers are telling us they are in no rush to buy if they can’t get exactly the car they want for a price they feel is right and delivered to a timeframe they consider reasonable.

Alarmingly, this week 37.5% of all new car shoppers also told us they’re holding out for a government incentive, despite the fact that such a scheme is becoming less likely.

Nearly a third of new car buyers said they will keep their money in their pockets for now if the factory delivery times prove too far in the future.

And 42% said they will delay buying if they can’t haggle their desired discount.