For those of you that follow the articles here at MTI you may have noticed I haven’t been around lately and for a very good reason, I had lost the ability to smile. While the rest of the car buying public up and down the country appeared to have forgotten a recession was in progress with sales and prices of used vehicles at an all time high, down here in one corner of the south east it was still very much in evidence. As a midsized well known prosperous seaside town we had more than our fair share of established main agent dealerships and probably the highest concentration of used motor dealers in the south east, if not the country. One stretch of the main A13 London Road contained no fewer than 42 used car sites and showrooms in a seven mile stretch, and yes I did say 42! But not anymore.
Since December 2008 we have seen a dramatic decline in the number of dealers both new and used going to the wall in alarming numbers, in the past couple of months alone we have lost from the town: Inchcape: Honda, Lookers: Land Rover, Lookers: Volvo, Currie Motors: Peugeot, and H.W. Stone: Alfa Romeo & Fiat, every one of them long established firms in well placed central locations. Contrast this with the used sector and it seems a small number compared to the some 25 sites or more that have closed their doors since the beginning of the current year. Drive through any part of our town now, including the main thoroughfares and you will be greeted by boarded up showrooms and empty car fronts the like of which has never been seen before. Indeed, such was the draw of customers to this area with so much choice and sheer numbers of vehicles, any budding motor dealer in the new or used sector would usually have a very long wait and not an inconsiderable rent to pay if they wanted a prime site to retail from. But now the letting agents are falling over themselves to try and get these properties filled and have little or no takers.
When I have shown long established dealers (who have no knowledge I write for MTI) the articles by other staff writers over the last few months championing the “used car boom” and rightly so, the hardier ones have either laughed their heads off or looked at each other with blank despairing looks and not to mention a few expletives!
It goes without saying, Cars will only sell when there are people to buy them, in order for that to happen they need to feel secure about their jobs, their future, and lest we forget, their environment as a whole. Indeed, in the Sunday Observer the other week, under the tag: “Grim figures reveal depth of recession” they open with the line, and I quote: “In one area of the south east, 60 workers are available for each job” not an altogether encouraging sign for this part of the country. So just where do we go from here in motoring terms?
Well it’s not all doom and gloom. I for one believe the slimming down of competition in what was an oversupplied sector (in this area anyway) has had some impact of late, in the last couple of weeks so called “green shoots” have begun to show with some dealers beginning to see increased traffic through their doors at last Some fantastic deals are now to be had due to the “drought” in footfall that many have experienced these last months while the rest of the country “boomed”. As far as sales were concerned, those consumers with money to spend may still be able to buy cars at prices not seen since December 2008 in other parts of the country, in fact if proof was needed, I have just today sold a Volvo V70 estate from our internet site to a gentleman in “Stockton On Tees” Cleveland, way way up north. He couldn’t believe the price compared to the same vehicle in his part of the world, in fact such are the savings he’s going to pay a friend with a transporter to come and pick it up.
Now there’s a thing, the south selling to the north! Whatever next? There’s life in this part of the country yet!
Long may it continue for consumers and businesses alike.
A great site to find 2nd hand cars on is motors, they advertise cars throughout the whole country so you are able to compare the prices and see which is the cheapest for yourself!