Nathan Coe, chief executive of Auto Trader, has commented on the government’s latest Covid measures, stating there are reasons to be positive ahead of the next phase of lockdown.
“Since the emergence of Covid, we have been monitoring the market and consumer buying behaviour, sharing key insights along the way to support and guide our customers,” said Coe. “We’ve seen record audience levels over the summer, traffic was up 30% in August on the same period in 2019, signalling strong purchase intent.
“If we look at audience levels for the past seven days, visits are on average up 25%, and very encouragingly they were also up by 23% on Monday (the day of the scientific announcement). This suggests that consumers won’t react to new restrictions in the same way as they did earlier in the year and that demand will remain robust.
“As regional restrictions have been introduced, we’ve monitored the impact on audience levels in those areas too, and reassuringly we have seen little impact. If retailers are demonstrating their Covid safety measures to consumers, as well as additional services like home delivery and other online functionality, they will be in good shape to weather this next phase.”
Coe continued: “Our marketplace continues to show positive signs that the demand we have seen is sustainable and, our metrics don’t indicate that consumers will be put off car buying. In fact, our recent consumer research shows that people now want to buy cars for different reasons, as 11% want to actively avoid public transport by buying a car instead, and 20% of consumers said they wanted to just buy an additional car because of the current situation.
“These are new consumers buying cars, in addition to those who would have bought this year anyway, which all bodes well for sales volumes. Our research also looked at people’s propensity to afford a car, and 45% said they felt more confident in being able to buy a car now than they did a year ago, with 43% saying that they felt just as confident now as they did in August 2019. As public safety restrictions continue to reduce people’s leisure spending, some consumers appear to have more money for buying things like cars.
“Another key indicator of market health is price, and the data we collate for our Retail Price Index has shown prices are not only holding but they have been steadily increasing all summer and the trends show no signs of abating. Supply is still tight, but as long as demand remains and retailers stay strong with their pricing strategies and price to the live retail market, we don’t anticipate any negative impact on pricing this year.
“For now, the indicators from our marketplace suggest that there are reasons to remain positive. The focus for retailers should be to capitalise on the opportunities by ensuring that they offer consumers a great digital car buying experience, as well as a great forecourt experience. There’s certainly been a shift in consumer buying behaviour as they look to perform more of their car buying journey online, which is a trend we only see increasing.
“We’d urge any of our customers who aren’t currently displaying their Covid safety measures on Auto Trader to do so now. We’ll continue to monitor all relevant metrics and share the data with our customers in the coming days and weeks.”