The coronavirus outbreak has had a huge impact on consumer interest in new and used cars.
A digital survey has uncovered a massive drop in consumer interest in purchasing new or used cars with a decline of 81% when comparing March 2019 with March 2020.
Conducted by Dmac Media, the survey discovered that in March 2019, there were 971,020 searches for new or used cars and this has dropped to 104,550 for March 2020.
The research examined 900 "key phrases" across 40,000 car dealership website visits used by 25,000 individuals.
Other findings in the Irish Auto trade industry included:
- A 96% decline in searches for used cars, from 541,790 in March 2019 to 23,310 in March 2020.
- A 85% decrease in model-specific searches for example "Toyota Corolla" compared with 2019.
- Car finance searches have contracted by 45%.
- The visitor to enquiry rate fell by 30% throughout the month of March 2020.
Dmac media also reported that the number of people searching for specific brands such as "Toyota" reduced by 25% compared to 2019.
Finance applications processed by websites declined by 61% versus 2019 while search interest levels in three of the top-10 selling models in January 2020 reached their lowest levels since 2011.
Enquiries from car dealer websites declined by 61% compared to the same period last year and preliminary research showed that industry searches are set to contract by at least a further 24% in April.
Speaking about the research findings, Dave McEvoy, Managing Director of Dmac Media said: “There is no doubt that Irish Auto Trade is suffering right now. Consumer interest has all but disappeared."
Mr McEvoy said that any recovery in car sales will be "evident online" before it is seen in dealerships. He said with "confidence in online shopping at an all-time high" online purchasing behaviour will continue its current trends and that the recovery in 2021 will be led by those who "built on the principles of the digital-dealership."
He said that the Irish auto industry has profited from the growing digital sales and that the "digital footprint" is "an excellent place to track changes" within the sector. He said this information from online activity can help determine in the future purchasing decisions for the Irish car sales industry.