Putting the Car Market Back in Gear After COVID-19

After most dealerships shut their doors to the general public on the 23rd March throughout the UK, before the government announced that dealerships could reopen their doors on the 1st June, the automotive market like any other has undoubtedly been affected by the global pandemic. 

With the car market severely affected by travel restrictions, the reopening of car showrooms has been excellent news for the automotive industry with car sales bouncing back due to the pent-up demand. Despite the pandemic resulting in many buyers opting for online sales, the majority of buyers still prefer to have the experience of visiting a showroom, test-driving a car, and taking their time to choose which car is best for them.

Car dealerships have been required to reshape the car market following the pandemic, by putting in measures to ensure customer safety and making sure that staff members and car buyers feel comfortable in visiting showrooms.

In this blog, we explain how we are adapting to reopening our doors and how the car market has responded to the pandemic.

Reopening to the Public

While car showrooms reopening was excellent news for many, dealerships had still been closed for two and a half months. After showrooms were then able to open on 1 June, it understandably took some time for buyers to regain the confidence to feel encouraged about visiting a dealership. With many restrictions still in place surrounding social distancing and essential travel, it still is an uncertain time for many. Levels of enquiries spiked in late May just days before showrooms were due to reopen.

In order to become COVID secure, we introduced new measures to allow Parkland Motors to stay open for key workers requiring a new vehicle, with a delivery service so that key workers can receive their new vehicle after it’s delivered to their front door.

We have been closely monitoring the developments of COVID-19 to ensure that the health and wellbeing of all team members and our customers were kept a priority. With our robust continuity plans, we were able to still provide our customers with our renowned outstanding services. 

To remain COVID secure, we are offering video viewings and a click and collect or click and deliver service. Any vehicle purchased through Parkland Motors will be thoroughly cleaned and valeted before handed over to our customers. We have ensured our dealership is safe for our customers to visit by abiding by the 2 metres social distancing rule, creating customer sanitisation stations, putting perspex screens in place, having daily temperature checks to ensure our staff members are fit for work, having a safe arrival with contactless vehicle handovers and also providing PPE for test drives.

Bouncing Back

Throughout the UK, prices of used cars rose by 0.5% in the first 10 days of June, according to Motor Trade News. Hybrid vehicle sales were up 22% year on year, while demand for diesel vehicles has fallen by 8%.

Enquiries for used cars across the UK were only 16.5% lower in May 2020 compared to 2019, making a significant difference to overall car sales. With that being said, this was a dramatic increase from enquiries compared to April 2020, which saw 61.5% fewer enquiries than in April 2019.

Overall, it has been excellent to see how quickly the car market industry has bounced back from the COVID-19 lockdown, with the demand for vehicles now higher than ever. Throughout the UK, around 12,000 used cars are sold each day on average, which is where the market was prior to the UK lockdown.

With most UK dealerships now open in the UK, many have reported fantastic feedback on the first few weeks of trading, which is most likely due to the pent-up demand that has built up since many closed their doors on the 23rd March.

Going Digital

As a result of the pandemic, many buyers prefer minimal contact with those working in dealerships, which has sparked a rise in the means of going digital. With Parkland Motors adapting to this demand for going digital, our video viewing service has been extremely popular with our customers, which allows them to view the vehicle from the comfort of their own home.

With more customers looking to go digital, it’s critical that dealerships adapt to this by becoming more responsive and active online. According to Dealerweb, 49% of buyers are more likely to complete a vehicle purchase if they receive a response to an online enquiry within one hour. This also means that 25% of buyers said they expected a dealer to respond in under 30 minutes. In other words, it pays to be responsive! When customers visit a website to enquire about a car they like, a quick response is essential to ensure the best possible chance of converting a lead.