Are we set for another used car sales boom?

25 March 2021

With non-essential retail due to reopen from the 12th April 2021, car showrooms across the country are currently preparing to reopen. But will that reopening result in another wave of car buying comparable to what we saw in summer 2020?

Car dealerships reopening after three months of lockdown

In January 2021, England was plunged into a third lockdown period in an attempt to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant that car showrooms across the country were forced to close their doors once more. The government’s roadmap out of lockdown details plans for non-essential retail to reopen from the 12th April 2021, providing targets are met in controlling the pandemic. This includes car showrooms across the country, which are currently finalising their plans to reopen.

Car sales continued through lockdown

Unlike the first lockdown when car sales plummeted, many car dealerships were able to continue trading through this lockdown thanks to their newly created online platforms. The first Covid-19 lockdown resulted in many car dealerships scrambling to create online sales platforms in an attempt to save their business from the effects of the pandemic. Now that these online platforms are established, many dealerships found the switch back to online sales much smoother when the third lockdown was announced in January 2021. A total of 51,312 cars were sold online during February 2021, with buyers making use of click and collect and home delivery options. However, how does this compare to a normal February?

Car sales down in February 2021

Despite car sales continuing online, February 2021 still saw a 35% reduction in the registration of new cars, when compared to the previous February. Although February is often a weak month for car sales as buyers await number plate changes in March, February 2021 was particularly slow. This marks the weakest February on record since 1959, demonstrating the impact that the third Covid-19 lockdown has had on car sales.

Will there be a boom in car sales in Spring 2021?

With car sales slowing dramatically during the third lockdown, it’s almost inevitable that there will be a steep increase in the number of car sales once showrooms are able to reopen. Although many buyers have continued to purchase cars online, there are also many who have been waiting to purchase their new vehicle in person. A recent survey by What Car? showed that around 60% of would-be car buyers have shifted their buying plans to coincide with the planned reopening of car showrooms in the second half of April 2021. 43% of those surveyed said that they planned to make their purchase within three months of showrooms reopening.

What does the future hold for car dealerships?

Despite the significant increase in online car sales during 2020 and 2021, it’s clear that there is still huge demand for in-person car sales through dealerships and showrooms. This is a result of a preference for personal service, the benefit of test drives and remaining uncertainty over spending such a large sum of money online. Car dealerships can expect an increase in car sales in April 2021 as they begin to reopen after the third lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this is unlikely to fully make up for the lost sales of the past 12 months. Businesses will continue to hope that this is the final lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic and that their businesses can begin to get back to a new no


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