Customer demand undimmed by Plan B

The automotive retail market has remained robust despite the government’s introduction of Plan B measures. This is according to data from Auto Trader.

Despite speculation of the impact further restrictions may have on the market, Auto Trader research indicates that high levels of demand will continue, fuelled in part by the growing importance people are placing on car ownership and the need for exclusive access.

Out of about 1,900 consumers, Auto Trader found car ownership was important to 95% of those surveyed, which is the highest ever recorded. Most significantly, it has grown over the course of the pandemic, increasing from 89% in March 2021, and 88% in August 2020.

This increased need for ownership is being driven by a number of key factors, not least the desire for freedom and independence which came out as the primary motive for 71% of consumers. This is up from 63% in February 2020. Another important influence is the ongoing anxiety surrounding the use of public transport. Indeed, the research found the desire to avoid using a bus or train has grown from 41% in February 2020 to 45%.

Auto Trader’s commercial director Ian Plummer, said: “The regular news updates surrounding the growing number of Omicron cases and the possible measures to curb it are concerning, but it’s important to remember that we have been here before. Given the significant objections the Prime Minister faced from his own party, it currently seems unlikely the government will impose restrictions on non-essential retail. However, even during the third lockdown, when forecourts were forced to close, retailers were still reporting robust sales, with average volumes down just 16% on 2019.

“Whilst it is not the end to the year any of us were hoping for, consumer demand for cars remains strong. Based on the record sentiment towards car ownership and the wider positive economic factors at play, we are confident this will continue, even in the face of potential new restrictions. It’s critical therefore, that retailers don’t lose sight of the opportunity to continue to provide a great online experience, and ensure it is as easy and as safe as possible to buy from you.”