UK retail sales continued their bounce back in June, as the reopening of shops released pent-up demand. The amount of goods sold last month increased by 13.9%, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Online sales continued to go "from strength to strength", the ONS said, accounting for £3 out of every £10 spent by consumers. Demand at food stores remained strong, hitting new highs for the pandemic period.
Compared to February, volumes of food sales were 5.3% higher while non-store retailing grew by 53.6%. The rise followed record falls in April and a partial recovery in May as the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread shop closures and hit spending. The ONS said the rebound brought overall retail sales back to a similar level to where they were pre-lockdown, but it added that there was a "mixed picture" in different store types.
In June, non-food stores, including department stores and clothes shops, partially recovered from strong falls during the lockdown but were still 15% lower than in February. Non-essential shops in England were not allowed to reopen until 15 June, so they were only trading for half the month.
CarGurus' latest COVID-19 Sentiment Study has found that three quarters of car buyers who put off a purchase during lockdown are still actively searching for their next vehicle. CarGurus reported that it had seen lead volumes increase 15% to its English trading partners as car showrooms reopened their doors. The number of car buyers delaying their car purchases decreased from 87% in April to 77% in June, according to the survey of 1,104 car buyers, while only 2% of those who planned to buy a vehicle before the pandemic had delayed their purchase indefinitely.
Consistent with sentiment in April, more than three-quarters of prospective buyers (76%) would prefer to use contactless services like virtual dealer appointments, at-home test drives, or home delivery.
Despite suggestions from What Car? that many car buyers had emerged from lockdown with more to spend on a vehicle, CarGurus found that many car buyers are less confident in their ability to afford a vehicle purchase as a result of COVID-19 (43%), creating greater demand for financing deals. Before the pandemic, 40% of car buyers planned to finance their purchase, now 51% plan to or already have. Yet that confidence could soon return, with 27% of respondents saying they’re saving more than usual and 40% spending less on experiences - both of which could ease budgeting for significant purchases like cars.
The survey suggests that travel habits could change consumer demand over the coming months too, as more than two thirds (34%) of car buyers said they expect to use their vehicle more going forward.
Dealers have ranked the health and wellbeing of their employees and customers as their greatest concern as lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Dealers responding to the latest sentiment survey from Cox Automotive rated cash flow and a reduction in sales volumes as their second and third most pressing concerns, followed by the prospect of recession, further lockdown measures and devaluation of stock assets. They ranked access to capital as their lowest concern. The majority of dealers, 79%, said they are changing their business plan for the balance of 2020 as a direct consequence of Covid-19.
When asked if they expect to return a profit this year, 43% said yes, while a third thought not and 24% are still unsure. The pandemic is not solely to blame for cash flow difficulties. Accountancy firm BDO has argued that UK businesses were experiencing problems with cash flow before they pandemic hit in March. It said UK businesses’ cash generation was “worryingly low” heading into COVID-19 with mid-sized and smaller businesses faring worst.
The colour black has proved a popular shade for used car buyers, new data has shown. Bold colours have been shunned by buyers with more subdued tones favoured by those looking to purchase a used car.
In fact, between June 2019 and the same month this year, Imperial Cars – who conducted the research – sold 4,502 cars in black, accounting for more than a quarter of the number of cars bought during this period. It trumped white and grey, which came in second and third with sales of 4,117 and 3,459 cars respectively. Those who did fancy a slightly brighter colour opted for blue, with 2,565 cars finished in this shade sold during the time period.
More than two-thirds of the British public admit that lockdown has made them less likely to purchase an electric vehicle (EV).
New research conducted by online car-buying platform carwow has suggested that despite the positive reports of lowered air pollution during the lockdown period, environmentally friendly habits have been pushed to the back of many people’s minds. Prior to lockdown, carwow conducted a survey on 500 people living in the UK and found that 63% tried to avoid unnecessary car journeys, and 64% used public transport often. However, in their most recent survey, carwow found that these figures have significantly dropped.
With the government advising people to avoid public transport where possible, now only 54% of people are trying to avoid unnecessary car journeys and just 15% say that they use public transport often. More than two-thirds of those involved in the survey also said that lockdown has made them less likely to purchase an EV.
For most people, the reason for this is cost, 50% said: ‘I have more important things to worry about now,’ and 16% said: ‘I have lost my job and cannot afford one’.