59% of in-market car buyers move purchasing plans to expected dealership reopening date of April 12, says What Car?

Expectations of a huge surge in car-buying when showrooms in England reopen have grown again, according to the latest weekly What Car? study of car buyers.

According to the latest poll of 2,359 people, 59% of those looking to buy in the next four weeks, or in one to three months’ time, said they would “reorganise their new-car shopping to coincide with when they can visit a retailer”, now that the Government’s route out of lockdown points to them reopening from April 12.

The survey also indicated that there is a strong pipeline of pent-up demand that will carry on through to at least June, according to What Car?, with those looking to buy in the next four weeks, or in one to three months’ time, making up 43% of the respondents.

Additional insights show that 15% of respondents who were looking to buy within three months said they would now buy online instead of waiting for showrooms to reopen. However, 26% said the announcement did not impact their buying plans – they were either already set to buy online (9%) or were thinking of buying after April 12 (17%) anyway.

Nearly one in two potential car buyers (44%) disagreed with the decision to keep retailers closed for the next six weeks. This follows last week’s What Car? research, which found that 95% of in-market buyers feel comfortable visiting their local dealer as soon as they are allowed to do so, with the same percentage trusting that showrooms can be run in a Covid-safe way.

On a positive note, the certainty of the path out of lockdown has prompted 48% of all respondents to say that they have increased their vehicle research and purchase planning.