Car dealers could miss out on customization if they don’t enforce Covid measures in their showrooms, report warns
- Half of buyers said they would avoid showrooms without Covid protocol
- About 55% want social distancing, mask requirements and sanitation stations
- The report comes as new car sales have fallen to a two-decade low
- New model registrations in September were the lowest since 1998
Car dealers are being warned to maintain pandemic measures in their showrooms if they want to continue pulling customers through the door.
More than half of car buyers in the market say they would avoid dealerships without an effective hygiene protocol, such as social distancing guidelines, mask requirements and sufficient hand sanitizer stations.
What Car?, which conducted the survey, said dealers need to recognize it “important to make sure customers feel safe and comfortable in showrooms” as we move into the colder months, especially with new engine sales being heavily impacted by a shortage of supplies.
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The title ‘automotive’ surveyed a panel of 1,533 motorists who are currently looking for a new car.
It found that 55 percent would avoid a showroom that had lifted the coronavirus measures.
When which car? first asked the same question in July, 63 percent said they would avoid showrooms with no restrictions, suggesting retailers still need to uphold protocol.
The findings also show the discrepancy between actual dealer standards and customer needs.
Of those who visited a showroom in the past four weeks, 44 percent said they had been asked to wear a mask, but 68 percent of respondents would like dealers to continue to ask staff and customers to wear face masks.
Which car? also asked when customers would like the restrictions to be lifted, with 43 percent indicating only when the government confirms that Covid is no longer an issue, while 17 percent would like all restrictions to be lifted before the end of the year.
Only 11 percent said they would like to see the restrictions lifted immediately.
Which car? surveyed 1,533 motorists currently looking for a new car and found that 55% would avoid a showroom that had lifted the coronavirus measures
Of those who visited a showroom in the past month, 44% were asked to wear a face mask. The poll found that 68% of car buyers would like dealers to continue asking staff and customers to wear face masks
Steve Huntingford, editor at What Car?, said dealers should do everything they can to keep visitors happy with new car registrations on the slide
While no longer enforced by law, government guidelines may continue to require businesses and locations that customers maintain social distancing and wear masks to reduce the chances of transmitting Covid.
Steve Huntingford, editor at What Car?, said dealers should do everything they can to keep visitors happy this time of year, especially as buyers shift their focus to the used market due to limited production and shortages of new models.
“As the weather gets colder and we have to spend more and more time indoors, our latest research highlights the importance of making sure customers feel safe and comfortable in showrooms,” he said.
“Retailers should not relax their stance on Covid restrictions just yet, as the majority of buyers still want them enforced during their visit.”
Only 11% of the panel surveyed said they would like to remove the restrictions immediately
New car sales fell last month to their lowest level in September since 1998. The driving force behind the decline in vehicle registrations has been a lack of model availability due to production restrictions imposed by a shortage of semiconductor computer chips.
The warning from What Car? comes just days after officially published numbers revealed that September sales — which is usually one of the two biggest months on the calendar for auto dealers — were the lowest in more than two decades.
215,312 new cars were sold this month, more than a third less than last year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders confirmed.
It is the lowest sales volume in September since 1998 – the year before the current two-plate system (one in March and one in September) was introduced.
The decline in sales in recent months has mainly been caused by a shortage of semiconductor computer chips limiting production.
Some automakers have been forced to pause production at their engine plants and have said backorders for new models are cutting deliveries by more than a year in some cases.
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