Online car marketplace says it's due to pent-up demand caused by lockdown.

Coronavirus has all but wiped out new car sales, yet new research shows buyers are set to spend even more than normal once lockdown is lifted. Data from online car supermarket BuyaCar.co.uk shows consumers will spend more on cars when the lockdown is lifted than they did in March, before social distancing came into force.

The company’s figures show the average price of cars being reserved for purchase when lockdown is eased has risen to record levels during the coronavirus crisis. April saw the average price paid on the site hit a three-year low of £11,366, but that rose to almost £16,000 during the first week of May.

And don’t imagine that’s because all the stock on BuyaCar.co.uk’s site is more expensive. In fact, the company’s analysts reckon the news comes despite an increase in the proportion of cheaper ‘budget’ cars available. Instead, they think the increase in spending is simply a result of pent-up demand and customers’ increasing desire to treat themselves as the lockdown continues.

Potential used car buyer inspecting door

BuyaCar.co.uk has continued to deliver cars during the seven-week coronavirus lockdown, but restricted its sales to key workers, tradespeople and people who need a car to look after their family or vulnerable people. But the data released this week relates to reserved cars that will be delivered after restrictions are eased.

“Our sales and buying intentions data reveals a fascinating picture of the car market at its most distressed and suggests that there is going to be a surge in spending when the market begins to recover,” said Andy Oldham, the chief executive of BuyaCar.co.uk. “The value of our contribution to keeping key workers mobile by offering them free delivery and a free warranty is demonstrated by how careful those people have been in their buying choices.

Used car sale keys handed over

“I am delighted that with the help of our supplying dealer partners who managed to safely continue their support for us, we have made a real difference.

“Now, looking to the future it seems that consumers who have been kept out of the market for some time have a stronger appetite than ever for securing the best car they can afford. It seems that car sales in general are heading toward a very busy re-start. Our own website traffic reveals a 71-percent bounce back from the depths of early in the lockdown and we look forward to being able to resume our normal service as soon as we get the green light.”