Auto Trader: January Beat Expectations, Consumer Demand Robust

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We all need certainty when it comes to our jobs and our businesses.  Especially in the retail motor industry.

But where do we go for well-researched, believable facts and figures when there are downturns here contradicted by upturns there?  On the one hand there are doomsters warning us not to get our hopes up. On the other are equally-qualified experts pointing towards sunny uplands ahead.

Who do we believe? Who do we take seriously? How on earth do we plan our own business’s recovery?

Here at NTK Motors we have always had faith in Auto Trader.  And if Auto Trader says that there is some positivity to cling to, then we will take that onboard.

So it is that Auto Trader has issued a statement saying that, despite everything that’s going on around us, the motor industry performed better than expected last month. It wasn’t all sunshine, but with most retailers achieving 60-70% of their usual volumes we can say that was a victory of sorts, can’t we?  Especially given the depth of the gloom and the general halting of most activity during lockdown.

With retailers having to manage with click and collect sales, or home deliveries, it should be no surprise that the Auto Trader marketplace has witnessed a significant increase in visitors, 53.6 million up to 28 January, around 1.6 million more than January 2020.

Motor retailers will have benefitted from the knock-on effect of this directly, as the 1.3 million marketplace visits delivering around 10% more leads being sent to dealers than in January last year.

Other findings are also welcome: their onsite survey last month showed that more consumers are confident that they can actually afford to buy their next car than since Auto Trader began tracking the trend a year ago, rising to 8.68 out of 10, up from 8.49/10 in December. In fact, the survey shows that confidence is even higher now than in pre-pandemic times. 

Some dealers will take from this report one stat: 60% of potential car buyers say that the current restrictions have not affected their car-buying plans. 

As Auto Trader’s Chief Executive Officer, Nathan Coe, said: Overall, much as we saw when exiting the two previous lockdowns, we’re feeling confident the market will be in a robust position once the restrictions are lifted.”