Recent Government updates have confirmed that car dealerships can re-open from 1st June in England, 8th June in Northern Ireland, 22nd June in Wales and 29th June in Scotland.

Dealerships will have to ensure they can meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers before they re-open. Advice has been issued to dealerships on how they can apply distancing measures and help to reduce the risk to their properties, customers and workers. To find out more from your dealership on what they have in place, get in touch with them directly. Contact details can be found on the Auto Trader ad.

The specific guidance issued in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales varies so please follow the Government advice relevant to where you live. For example, Scottish dealerships should implement safety guidance and have outdoor entrances and exits.

Many dealerships are operating by appointment only to help ensure they’re meeting social distancing measures, so please arrange an appointment in advance.

It’s important you feel comfortable when buying a car, and that you know a dealership has taken appropriate safety measures for their forecourt before you visit, which is why we’ve introduced new features to Auto Trader adverts that highlight the measures the dealerships are taking for you.

These currently include:
• COVID-19 safety measures
• Live video viewings
• Home delivery

You can learn more about those features here.

Dealerships have also been given the go-ahead to provide ‘click and collect’ services, as and when they have the infrastructure in place – so this could be worth considering if you’re unsure about visiting the showroom, or already know which car you want.

How can dealerships work towards keeping people as safe as possible?

Government advice on how to observe social distancing and lower the risk of virus transmission has been made publicly available. You can read the full guidelines here.

Further to this, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd. (SMMT) and National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) have created complementary, sector-specific guidelines that provide guidance and best practice on how dealerships can actively work towards keeping people safe.

This advice has been distributed to SMMT and NFDA members, and is available to read here.

As this is a rapidly changing situation, advice issued should not be seen as exhaustive or comprehensive. It is however, regularly updated and dealerships are working flat out to ensure they’re meeting the latest best practice and keeping car buyers as safe as they can.

Some of the measures suggested to dealerships include:

• Working by appointment only to ensure the number of people in the showroom at any one time is limited. You can make an appointment through the Auto Trader ad, just use the call, email or live chat buttons. Some dealerships may work extended hours to make more appointments available.

• Introducing a two-metre social distancing gap between customers and dealership team members; and potentially entering and leaving a dealership by a one-way system.

• Regularly sanitising all facilities and surfaces, including entry points and service areas.
These measures are example suggestions taken from the Government guidance, as well as the SMMT and NFDA’s guidelines. To find out what measures a specific dealership is taking, please contact them directly.

Dealerships are encouraged to maximise their online presence, and Auto Trader is working closely with them to ensure you, as a prospective car buyer, are getting the best online experience.

Many retailers have taken advantage of the new COVID-19 safety measures feature on Auto Trader adverts to showcase the steps they are taking – so check this out and get in touch with the dealer for more information.

What can car buyers do to stay safe?

We encourage everyone to follow the NHS guidelines on COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Ahead of booking a visit to a dealership, make the most of the online experience by:

• Researching your next car – you could compare expert reviews or create a shortlist in your Auto Trader favourites.

• Where possible, arranging a live video viewing of the vehicle to see it in advance.

• Contacting the dealer ahead of time with any questions – you can use the extra time to properly research car finance options and double check the latest listings on site.

• Booking an appointment in advance.

• Taking sensible steps, such as bringing your own pen, if you feel uncomfortable using those provided.

For any medical advice, check the NHS guidelines for the latest updates.

Remember, you must self-isolate for 14 days if you, or any of your household, show symptoms of COVID-19.

Home delivery and customer collection

Many retailers are now providing car buyers with additional options which they are able to highlight to buyers on Auto Trader: you can arrange home delivery or customer collection where these services are available from retailers.

Retailers can now flag when home delivery is available in your area, so keep an eye out for that icon on the advert. If in doubt, just contact the dealership directly as they may be able to make arrangements.

With customer collection, you can buy a car online or over the phone and collect it from the retailer. Again, please check whether they have the infrastructure to safely and responsibly support this transaction.

As with showroom and forecourt visits, best practice and guidance have been issued on offering these services. You can check what measures a dealership is taking on their Auto Trader ad, or by contacting them directly.
This article represents Auto Trader’s opinions and interpretation of the current situation and does not necessarily reflect the latest government guidance and advice. Please always consult the latest government guidance and advice before taking any decision based on this article.