Following the UK entering official lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the 23rd of March, the car industry felt shockwaves and entered a period of uncertainty. Factories stopped production, dealerships and forecourts closed and vehicles were not able to be purchased, sold, collected and delivered. At the time, COVID-19 was beginning to show signs of gripping the nation as infections and deaths began to soar at unprecedented levels and this decision by the Prime Minister was justified.
No one in the motor trade disagreed with the decision as we all came together to save lives and protect the NHS.
On the 10th of May, lockdown restrictions began to ease which enabled many workers who were not remote working to be able to return to work where it is safe to do so. Many in the car industry were already working from home, began to work from home or slowly went back to the office. This was a clear signal that the car industry was able to wake itself up and get cars to customers. Remote working was not enough to do everything the motor trade wanted to do.
When customers wanted cars but the dealerships and factories were closed this broke the chain.
All Car Leasing remained open with remote customer services during March all the way to today to help answer urgent questions customers may have and to offer some advice. We continued to receive enquiries on new car leasing deals and orders for new cars and despite being hampered by many supplying dealers being closed we strove to offer the best service we could.
It's important to note that despite the lockdown, the people of the United Kingdom still need vehicles for essential journeys - for key workers the importance of having a car never changed and many of our enquiries came from those very people. April, in particular, was a challenging time with vehicle production almost zero with the majority of workers protected by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
The UK relies heavily on the car industry to provide jobs and revenue and to literally keep the nation moving. All Car Leasing takes the COVID-19 pandemic seriously but at the same time understand the collateral damage caused by stopping the motor industry in its tracks. We understand that the loss of income and mobility could be more damaging than the virus itself if not properly managed.
What we learned during the lockdown is the nation still wanted new cars. The number of enquiries we received never dropped to alarming levels - it was clear that getting a car was still something many people wanted or rather, needed. It's easy to forget that many continued to work during the lockdown (from home) and almost all of us needed to make an essential journey at one point. Every journey a key worker made during lockdown was essential.
At the start of lockdown, enquiries at their lowest were down 75% when compared to the week leading up to the 23rd of March, towards the end of May and beginning of June enquiries were back to 100% and at times higher than pre lockdown levels.
In terms of traffic, we can already see that visitors to the site today are more or less the same as they were before lockdown. We are now experiencing over 40 days of traffic growth consecutively. Traffic had dropped around 50% in April when compared to pre lockdown numbers so to see this return so quickly we feel is astonishing.
It became clearer to All Car Leasing that demand for cars was increasing day by day to similar levels if not more than May 2019. The demand for car leasing deals was back and it needed addressing. There are many reports about the downturn in car registrations during May but the way we see it, it is not because of a lack of demand but due to the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 on production plants, imports and delivery services.
All Car Leasing are pleased to see this increased demand and support the Government in helping to unlock the economy where it is safe to do so.
We always have irons in the fire at All Car Leasing to not only keep up with the competition but to try and gain an edge. Despite the setbacks imposed by COVID-19 we are expecting to be in a better place financially and structurally towards the end of 2020 with some exciting news to announce in the near future. We are proud to have supported our employees during this awful time and to continue to provide much-needed employment to the local area and beyond.
The SMMT has provided an in-depth article on how positive it would be to reopen the car industry and how much it provides the country during these testing times. The UK automotive sector has already established its readiness to get going and All Car Leasing is in full support of this movement and would like to share our message that our customers are ready for new cars and we are waiting with bated breath for the dealerships to help us satisfy this hunger.
It's clear to us from our internal reports that we are observing a real boost in interest for new cars and feel that it's one of the industries which would provide a much-needed boost to the economy whilst being one of the easiest to make COVID-19 safe. We are already offering contactless deliveries and click and collect which means that a customer can feel confident that there is little to no health risk in getting a new car.
The result would mean more people back in work safely, to reduce the burden on the UK Government through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and supporting our crucial manufacturing plants.
All Car Leasing are ready to meet this challenge to help the motor industry get back on its feet and beyond.