12th May 2020 – A digital survey conducted by Sligo based web-development company, Dmac Media has identified a sudden and significant drop in consumer interest in purchasing new or used cars with a year on year decline of 89 percent when comparing March 2019 with March 2020. In March 2019, there were 971,020 searches and this has dropped to 104,550 for the same period in 2020. This poses a major challenge for car dealers as the economy slowly opens.
Dave McEvoy, Managing Director of Dmac Media, said,
“Not only has consumer interest fallen in the new car sector, but the used car sector has also been significantly impacted as consumers postpone their intention to buy a new car. This industry has benefited massively from a growing digital culture and so the digital footprint is an excellent place to track changes within the industry and could help to determine a return future purchasing decisions for the Irish car sales industry.”
The survey examined 900 ‘key phrases’ used by 25,000 individuals across 40,000 car dealership website sessions to uncover its findings in the Irish Auto Trade industry. The report studied three areas: search interest online, website traffic and lead generation. It further explored the results by brand, model specific searches, car finance and terms related to ‘used vehicles’.
Dmac Media’s report entitled The Digital Fallout for Car Dealers from Covid-19 revealed:
– Online searches for car purchases are down81 per cent from 971,020 (March 2019) to 104,550 (March 2020)
– The number of individuals searching for cars is reduced by 43 per cent in March 2020.
– A 96% decline in searches for used cars, from 541,790 during March 2019 to just 23,310 in March this year.
– Search interest for specific brands i.e. ‘Toyota’ contracted by 25% year on year.
– A staggering 85% decline for model specific searches for example ‘Toyota Corolla’ compared with last year.
– Three of the top-10 selling models in January 2020 reached their lowest levels of search interest since 2011.
– The number of enquiries generated on car dealer websites fell by 61% versus the same period last year.
– Car finance searches have contracted by 45%.
– The decline in the number of finance applications processed by websites has fallen by 83%.
The visitor to enquiry rate fell by 30% throughout the month of March 2020.
Preliminary research shows that industry searches are set to contract by at least a further 24 per cent in April.
Dave McEvoy commented,
“There is no doubt that Irish Auto Trade is suffering right now. Consumer interest has all but disappeared. During the same time period we have seen a huge change in online purchasing behaviour with confidence in online shopping at an all-time high. Recovery in the car sales industry will be evident online before it is seen in dealerships. This year will be extremely tough but the bounce back in 2021 will be significant particularly for those who built on the principles of the digital-dealership. They will be best-placed to prime and pick up sales in the early stages of recovery”
In the same period building materials and DIY search interest has risen by 67 per cent in this time. Searches for the term ‘Building Supplies’ alone soared by 85 per cent. Search Interest relating to the top-five supermarkets is up 88 per cent year on year. Searches relating to baking products are up 54% on last March. The nation’s new favourite pastime appears to be baking. Searches for the term ‘Buy Flour Online’ soared by 4700% in the month of March.
Dave went on to say,
“Improving the digital forecourt is one area where business owners can start their recovery. E-commerce enabled car websites, private video tours of cars, online finance applications and digital signatures are features of a good digital dealership. The dealers that make this their new normal will grab a bigger share of the market.”
The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) published their official new car statistics on April 1st. Their report shows a 63% decline in new car registrations with just 6,174 cars being registered in March 2020 versus the 16,687 registered in March 2019. This online data suggests no quick return to ‘normal’ for car dealers.