Mixed signals from car buyers suggest a cautious road ahead for the UK car market – but with specialist online sellers leading the recovery.

Analysis of post-lockdown sales performance by the online car supermarket reveals the highest demand in the company’s 18-year history and new research suggests that the COVID-19 crisis has driven much of it.

The lifting of lockdown has seen an explosion of interest in car-buying across the board, but with BuyaCar recording faster growth in June this year than in the same month last year.

Now the latest research into motorists’ future buying plans suggests that more than one in ten are already planning to buy their next car online – with the coronavirus crisis named by most of them as a reason.

The contrast is stark between the enthusiasm for buying cars online, taking advantage of home delivery and contactless handover, and figures that show many more motorists than usual taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to their next car change. asked motorists about their future buying intentions* and learned that a record number are planning to buy their next car online, rather than from a traditional dealer. COVID-19 risk was named as the reason for their choice by almost one in ten of the 356 motorists who took part in the research.

The research also reveals a dramatic change in general car buying plans compared to the picture three years ago, when motorists were last asked when they plan to change their car.

Currently 71% of car buyers don’t plan to change their car during the coming 12 months – in stark contrast to the picture in 2017, when half of all motorists questioned said they would change theirs during the year ahead.

The research is conducted amongst known regular car buyers – known as ‘in-market’ consumers – who use every type of car sales channel, from traditional dealers through to online-only specialists such as BuyaCar and Cazoo.

In 2017 only one in four motorists said they would not return to the market for two years or more. In the latest research that figure rose to nearly half.

Andy Oldham, Chief Executive of, said:

“This is the first time we have established a clear independent link between COVID-related concerns or restrictions and an increased appetite for buying cars online, from the safety and comfort of your own home.”

“We knew, from our experience of maintaining emergency deliveries for key workers and other essential drivers during lockdown, that online car sales were providing a unique benefit to people who were unable to go out in the usual way to buy a car. But now we have the evidence that people intend to buy online, whether or not there are any further lockdown restrictions.”

“The scale and speed of our own car sales recovery has surprised us, but the evidence we have now found about future buying plans suggests that it is more than just the release of pent-up demand following the lockdown. The evidence now points to recovery of Britain’s car market in general being led by the online specialists.”


Since 2002 has been the pioneer of digital motor retail, with more than 20,000 sales to date. Having led the way as an online car marketplace, is now Brtain’s most popular online car supermarket.* . Buyacar has refined the digital approach to achieve dramatic and consistent growth which also bucks all normal seasonal and general market trends. The company has innovated to become a used car retailer in its own right, rather than follow the typical online model of lead generators who appear to offer cars for retail sale that will actually be sold by 3rd parties. brings the interests of customers and dealers together. The company handles the marketing and sales process, buying cars directly from dealerships when orders are placed and collecting them for delivery to the customer’s door. Partner websites include sister titles Auto Express, Carbuyer and Evo, as well as, bringing valuable promotional opportunities in front of six million in-market car buyers.

*Organic traffic to independently measured by SimilarWeb.

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