As car dealerships in England are re-opening, new research suggests customers are happy to visit in person as long as safety measures have been put in place.
The research also found there has been a marked increase in people willing to buy a car online this year.
Harrogate-based JudgeService Research, which provides a reviews and ratings service for the automotive industry, surveyed people who bought a car in May last year or the year before.
JudgeService’s managing director Neil Addley said: “This survey shows that the interest is there from people still wanting to service and change their car as they have always done.
“As dealerships begin to re-open, the focus has to be on reassuring customers that safety is a priority. It’s also imperative that companies react to the rise in demand for online sales and service bookings.”
The company specialises in analysing feedback from car buyers and wanted to find out more about how people felt about returning to dealerships as Covid-19 restrictions are eased.
They found that people’s propensity to change their car was not significantly affected by the coronavirus crisis. Nearly a fifth (19.08 per cent) of those surveyed said they would have changed their car within the next 12 months under normal circumstances. When considering whether they would change their car in the current situation, this figure dropped only slightly to 16.82 per cent.
Around 20 per cent of respondents identified as being at high risk of getting ill from coronavirus, and they were understandably more reticent about visiting dealerships. However, nearly 22 per cent of them said they would be happy to do so in person as long as social distancing rules were observed, with this number rising to nearly 35 per cent among those who were not at risk.
Meanwhile, over 20 per cent of not-at-risk respondents said they would consider buying online, compared to just five per cent a year ago. Of those, 10.58 per cent would buy online with home delivery and a further 10.58 per cent would buy online with a socially-distanced click-and-collect option. And among those surveyed who were high risk, 17 per cent said they would buy online.
With the crisis putting on hold many non-urgent servicing appointments, the research also showed people were keen to have their car serviced in the near future, providing the process was safe. 28 per cent of customers not at risk and 21 per cent of those at high risk said they wanted to have their car serviced as soon as they can.
Among the not-at-risk group, 60 per cent said they would be happy to book a service online or over the phone and to collect or have delivery. Only 20 per cent wanted to wait to book a service until the pandemic is over, with this figure rising to 30 per cent among people who are high risk.
Neil added: “We expected there to be some changes in attitude this year because of the current situation, but some of the figures we found have surprised us. It will be interesting to see how those intentions translate to sales over the coming months.”