The latest data from Auto Trader indicates most retailers are now trading at around 75% of normal volumes. This is “up significantly from January and points to a strong recovery over the coming weeks as physical forecourts fully reopen”, said Auto Trader.

Based on consumer activity on Auto Trader (up circa 10.3% on the same period last year and up 6.5% week-on-week), consumers were clearly expecting the news that forecourts will fully re-open in the coming weeks and have gradually been increasing activity. Auto Trader’s on-site research suggested that for 73% of the circa 800 consumers intending to buy in the next 12 months, it hadn’t made any impact on their planned purchase timeline. Just 11% said it had made them want to delay their purchase, with 6% saying they were now planning to buy sooner.

Auto Trader highlighted also the positive trends facing wider economic factors: the latest Bank of England findings indicated average household finances are in better shape than they were pre-COVID, with savings levels around three times as much as in any other nine-month period. What’s more, significant levels of consumer credit have been repaid with outstanding credit to individuals dropping £23 billion since February 2020. This aligns to Auto Trader research which revealed that consumers' confidence in being able to afford their next car remains very high (8.43/10), and ahead of confidence levels recorded pre-pandemic (8.11/10 in January 2020). For those looking to buy in the next two weeks, levels are even higher (8.67/10).

Commenting, Auto Trader’s chief executive officer, Nathan Coe, said: “We are seeing early signs of a strong consumer recovery from the latest lockdown. It’s clear that consumers are getting more comfortable with the current buying options available and are anticipating physical forecourts fully opening in the coming weeks. We have seen this in both a step up in our audience performance and our proxy sold data”.