OUR BLOG: Is the showroom picture better than Q1 stats suggest?

  09 April 2018 - 9:14am |    Tristan Young

Is the trade in a bout of self-denial over the Q1 registrations and trying to put on a brave face on what appear to be some pretty dismal registration figures?

Or are dealers actually holding up better than expected?

The SMMT’s first quarter data showed a 12% January-March drop and a 16% fall in March against last year.

These have been blamed variously on the pre-April ’17 rush to beat the VED increase, Brexit, the Beast from the East keeping buyers indoors instead of showrooms, on worries over the interest rate hikes which have to come at some stage and a general slowdown in spending. After all, who wants to be locked into a PCP when your mortgage is about to go up?

And yet, look a bit deeper and a different picture emerges.

OK, diesel got hammered which is hardly a surprise. Petrol remained flat and consumers are waiting for the recharging infrastructure to catch up with a lot of latent demand before jumping into EVs in significant numbers.

It all looks a bit grim but the word from the coal face is that despite press reports talking down the market dealers seem to be doing alright, better than expected in fact in some cases.

Ones I’ve spoken to say they have come very close to, or met, their Q1 targets. Now, either those targets are very low or the showroom footfall is still strong.

Even allowing for a degree of ‘talking-up’ the market, the general impression is of a trade where demand is surprisingly resilient.

It may involve discounting and being fast on their feet but sales staff are still closing deals and getting the business done and those vital Q1 bonuses should be coming through.

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