THREE QUARTERS of dealerships were ready for the June 1 re-opening with most of them immediately seeing a surge in online sales and inquiries.
The figures were revealed in a survey by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) to understand the implications of the COVID-19 lockdown on the automotive retail sector.
The survey asked dealers questions about their return to work including the percentage of dealerships that reopened, current online activity, and levels of customer booking as well as phone inquiries.
The survey was conducted twice to find industry insights and monitor trends. The first issue of the survey ran between 15 and 19 June, while the second one was conducted from 29 June to 2 July.
- Dealership opening: the vast majority of dealers (75.2%) reopened all dealerships on 1 June. Dealers are gradually bringing more people back to work in response to the levels of customer demand
- Online: during the first two weeks, most dealers saw an increase in online sales enquiries (80.2%), as well as online sales (66.7%). Interestingly, two weeks later, fewer dealers reported a rise in new car online enquiries (55.6%) as well as new car online sales with only one in four saying they have sold more cars online. However, in the used sector, 83.2% of dealers saw a larger volume of online enquiries and 55.45% saw an increase in online used car sales.
- Phone inquiries: more than half of dealers saw a surge in phone enquiries from potential customers prior to visiting dealerships. Slightly more dealers saw a moderate or considerable increase in phone enquiries at the end of June (65%) compared with earlier in the month (60%).
- Appointments: nearly three in four dealers said more customers are booking appointments prior to visiting.
- Test drives: according to 8 in 10 dealers, customers have shown interest in taking unaccompanied test-drives.
- Government support: 98% of dealers who responded to the survey used the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Sue Robinson, NFDA Director, said “Despite the significant challenges caused by over two months of lockdown, dealers showed encouraging signs from the first trading weeks since dealers reopened in the UK, including an increase in online inquiries and sales.
“Positively, the majority of dealers reopened as soon as they could and reported that all customers are accepting the changes to the standard operational procedures allowing retailers to continue to do business safely and smoothly.
“NFDA will continue to ask for retailers’ feedback over the coming weeks as it is vital that we monitor the health of our sector to ensure it receives the support it needs going forward”.