Car buying confidence three times higher than during first lockdown

Consumer car buying confidence is three times higher today than it was during the first lockdown, according to new research.

A study by WhatCar? of 2,939 in-market buyers found that 20.4 per cent were looking to buy a new vehicle in the next four weeks, while 24.6 per cent have plans to purchase a car within one to three months’ time. Combined, these two groups make up close to half of all the respondents.

Compared with the first lockdown in March, these figures show a real swell in the number of people who are looking to purchase their next car. In fact, during the first lockdown, just 3.5 per cent of people were looking to buy within four weeks, while eight per cent thought they’d be purchasing a car within one and three months.

Rachael Prasher, managing director at What Car?, said: “In the first lockdown, we saw sales completely disappear as consumers were overwhelmed by the uncertainty. Our latest market research shows consumer intention is more than three times higher in the current lockdown than in the first one.”

The research also found that more than half of respondents said that the new lockdown had not caused them to delay their purchase, despite showrooms across the UK being closed.

It comes as dealerships continue to advance their online car buying processes and buyers become more familiar with the ability to buy cars from home. In October, WhatCar? found that 35.2 per cent of buyers said they’d feel comfortable purchasing a car online, while in its most recent round of research this had risen to 42.9 per cent.

Prasher added: “One of the key drivers of sales and consumer confidence has been the growing investment into online selling platforms. Our own web traffic also shows a large number of buyers are continually researching their next car during lockdown.

“With a growing share of buyers comfortable operating in an entirely digital field, and a large share of these buyers looking to buy their next before the showrooms open this should give the market some much needed continuity ahead of a return to more normal times.”

Nine out of 10 of those respondents who were in the market to buy a car now said that they would be comfortable picking up their next model via a click-and-collect service, too.