Comment; “Thanks to a perfect storm of unforeseen challenges over the last few months, retailers are facing a financially difficult close to 2018, but consumers could pick up the bargain of the year” said Ian Plummer, Auto Trader director.
“Despite what has been an undoubtedly challenging year for the industry, the market remains relatively buoyant. However, the full extent of the disruption caused by the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) is only now becoming clear, and the knock-on effects will be felt across UK forecourts for some time to come.
“Despite strong growth in July and August, as brands reduced prices to shift non-compliant stock ahead of the new regulations, retailers were faced with a dramatic short-fall in available cars in September. Unfortunately, contrary to industry expectations of a bounce-back during the last few months of the year, retailers have struggled to make up the numbers in October and November. Not only are stock levels still not as good as they should be, but the challenge has been compounded by the ongoing consumer confusion surrounding fuel-types and the uncertainty driven by the increased coverage of Brexit.
“This is placing huge pressure on December, which as car retailers know only too well, is the most challenging month of the year to convert sales, even without the current economic and political anxieties. It means brands will either have to reduce their network targets, leave their retailers to take the financial hit of missing targets, or make their cars especially attractive with very strong consumer offers to significantly accelerate sales in the last days of the year.
“However, as a result of earlier price reductions from those brands liquidating stock before the new regulations came into force, all brands have already faced added price pressure. It means those consumers prepared to splash out before Christmas can look forward to some of the year’s best deals from manufacturers hoping to stand out."