Click and collect orders soar as new car industry adapts to life under lockdown

Published 04 February 2021

The UK new car market fell 39.5 per cent in January, with 59,030 fewer registrations compared to the same month last year, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

However, while the headline figures represent the worst start to a year since 1970, an increase in online orders, home deliveries and click and collect orders have prevented an even greater fall. 

Just 90,249 cars were registered as showrooms across the country remained shut, but the news isn’t quite as bad as it may appear. After all, in April 2020, just 4321 new cars were sold - a figure representing a drop of 97.3 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Since the first lockdown, dealers in the UK have been changing the way they communicate with customers and advertise their cars, with video walkarounds and video appointments now becoming the new norm. 

Despite the lockdown rules, dealers can still sell cars remotely in England, Scotland and Wales via home delivery or click and collect - both have proven popular based on the nearly 60,000 cars sold in January 2021.

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“Digitalising elements of the sales process has no doubt been challenging for many, but the industry’s effort and agility will pay off in the long-run - as we expect some drivers will prefer to buy in this way in the future,” commented James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars.

Petrol car sales were down 52 per cent and diesel models down 61 per cent compared to this time last year. However, pure electric vehicles (EVs) saw a 54 per cent rise, with hybrids seeing a 28 per cent jump since January 2020. EVs and hybrids now see a market share of around seven per cent each respectively. Both are estimated to grow their combined market share from just over one in 10 new cars to more than one in seven.

It was also good news for the used car market, with research from heycar UK showing that there was a surge in the volume of leads going to its network of dealers in January - up 22.8 per cent on December. The data also shows that demand for used diesel cars is very much on the rise.

Between January and December, heycar UK recorded a 23.2 per cent increase in searches for diesel cars, alongside a 22.5 per cent rise in customers looking for petrol vehicles. 


Fenwoman    on 4 February 2021

The used car market has gone crazy in the last 12 months. Car prices seem to have doubled. Sadly for me. I bought a Peugeot 407SW estate to use for a year while saving up for another Chrysler Voyager (best car I've ever owned). However, what was worth £1200 for a year ago, is now double of more that amount and I've been priced out of the market.

   on 4 February 2021

60,000 less cars sold. Since 75% of all sales are of imported vehicles, thats got to be good news. All we have to do now is to persuade the halfwit that buy imported vehicles to start supporting their country and keep as many British workers in a job. No chance however, because we have the most me,me,me society in Europe,to whom prestige,image,status and flaunting wealth are of the utmost importance.

Michael Read    on 7 February 2021

re: buy British comment. Can you name any British car makers I could buy from?

Mini owned by BMW so German and the list goes on.

I cannot afford a Morgan.

So do we just count cars assembled in this country regardless of who owns the company?

aethelwulf    on 4 February 2021

Well, with the ICE cars doomed why should I get excited about a car? I make mine last anyway and will use them until they almost drop. I run two cars . One a small town car Piccanto whch is 11 years old and seems fine for years to come and a Ford Mondeo Estate 16 years old , petrol, which performs as it should but saddled with high VED. Still not worth spending many £000s to save a bit of VED!
By 2030 perhaps a practical hydrogen car will have evolved whuch will be better than EV as the latter are a stop gap.Save your cash and make it last is my motto.Also do not buy from the EU.

Stainless Steve    on 4 February 2021

I am so pleased the government made 97.3% less tax last year, in less car sales!

Bruce Dibben    on 5 February 2021

How many wannabee electric car owners cannot attain their dream as the modern trend is a dwelling with no garage or drive to charge the vehicle overnight. I observe many EV's filling the blue badge parking areas at supermarkets because a large proportion of owners are either on Motability or well off pensioners. Hence our love of the internal combustion engine is here to stay for a lot longer than the government anticipates unless of course, we all capitulate to a life of changing climates and drown in plastic.

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