The industry is now one week into the post lockdown trading period in England and the question that concerned retailers nationwide has now been answered and that was whether there really would be consumer demand for cars, says Rupert Pontin, Director of Insights at Cazana.
Indications both anecdotal and factual reflect the fact that consumers have returned to the showrooms in significant numbers, although as expected not at the pre-lockdown levels.
Confidence in the social distancing and cleanliness of the showrooms has been absolutely key and post COVID retailing procedures have in many ways been welcomed.
Unfortunately, the return to business has not been without difficulty and disappointment for some. The financial pressures of such a long period of closure have resulted in a variety of less positive measures from some of the dealer groups and OEMs.
Lower levels of business, improved online sales and a lack of revenue have prompted an operational review and the outcome has been the loss of some jobs, predominantly from the sales teams.
Key performers have been retained and brought back from furlough whilst some members of staff still await their fate, which will undoubtedly be dependent on consumer demand in the coming weeks and the possibility of a second wave of the virus resulting in further lockdown measures is lurking in the background and will not be helping Exec teams in their decision making.
Similar issues have been faced by the OEM’s, and production facilities are working at varying capacities depending on brand and location.
Luxury cars have gone down in price by just under 4% in showrooms and generally it has been a period of negatives, but supermini and sports cars have shown good prices.