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76% of active car searchers surveyed intend to purchase a used car between now and three months of the lockdown being lifted

  • 38% of active car searchers not intending on postponing purchases despite showrooms being closed
  • Further 17% intending to buy as soon as lockdown ends, with additional 21% buying within 2-3 months
  • Test drives and desire to ask questions in person main reasons for postponing

06 May 2020: Over three-quarters of active car searchers (76%) intend to purchase a used car between now and two to three months of the government's lockdown restrictions being lifted.

According to eBay Motors Group's COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Survey, 38% of buyers have not postponed plans to buy a used car.

Of those who have postponed purchases, 17% say they will buy as soon as the lockdown is lifted, while a further 21% plan to buy within two to three months afterwards. Just under a quarter (24%) are not certain when they will buy.

The research was carried out between 17-24 April and polled the views of 693 car searchers visiting the Motors.co.uk website or registered with Motors.co.uk.

Searchers wanting to buy a car as soon as possible are mainly key workers or those who have seen a car that best fits their needs.

"Although dealer showrooms have been closed since 24 March, used car buyers have still been active online with our research showing an eagerness among the vast majority to continue with their purchase plans," said Dermot Kelleher, Head of Marketing and Research at eBay Motors Group.

"Dealers actively promoting their stock online and providing digital touchpoints which are resonating with buyers at a time when the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has clarified that retailers can sell cars remotely and deliver them to customers, so long as all Public Health England guidance is followed to protect both employees who cannot work from home and customers. Our advice to dealers is to engage with these in-market buyers and communicate how orders can be facilitated now or after the lockdown is lifted.

"The research also confirmed the crucial role dealerships will continue to play after the lockdown is lifted with most customers postponing purchases citing the need to be able to test drive cars and to ask questions in person," he said.

The survey also identified the key COVID-19 related information that consumers are looking for online. Top of the list was whether the dealership was open, both to confirm the services that are on offer at present and to understand whether the dealership is actively responding to enquiries. Additionally, consumers wanted to know how dealers are preparing vehicles for sale, in particular what car cleaning protocols and disinfection services they are implementing.

"In terms of immediate actions, we would encourage dealers to update both the vehicle descriptions they use on sites like ours and the content on their own channels to make it clear what services they are currently offering, for example, safe home delivery or services for key workers. There is also clear appetite from potential buyers to understand what measures dealers are putting in place to ensure the hygiene of their vehicles. Again, where dealers have put these protocols in place, there may be competitive advantage in advertising these clearly online," said Kelleher.