Relieved retailers reopen safely

  12 April 2021

The NFDA and SMMT have published updated restart guidance for retailers. The ‘best-practice’ guide, now in its fourth edition (link below), covers the entire customer experience and has been developed in partnership with retailers and OEMs. It includes advice on staff training, signage, sanitation and PPE.

Sue Robinson said the industry has been “proactively working together to resume business as soon as possible in line with the government’s guidelines” and the guidance will help over 4,500 franchised dealers “provide the best possible service in sales and aftersales while protecting staff and guests”.

Kia UK president and CEO Paul Philpott praised retailers who have “worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic” but admitted that many customers still “prefer to purchase a car in-person”. SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said that click and collect has helped the sector survive but “cannot replace the experience of choosing and test driving a new car in person”.

“We’re super-excited” about reopening, said Lookers COO Duncan McPhee. At each reopening in 2020, there was a release of pent-up demand and “I think we’ll have a monumental 2021”. Mr McPhee is tipping EVs and PHEVs in particular to fly out of showrooms.

In a Motor Ombudsman survey, more than half of retailers now expect new car sales to be higher for April to June than in Q2 2019. More than two thirds expect used car sales to be higher than in the comparable pre-Covid 2019 quarter. The results “paint an encouraging picture” said chief ombudsman Bill Fennell.

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