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EARLY signs from franchise vehicle dealers are that trading conditions are good, post Victoria’s COVID lockdown.

A survey of members by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) shows dealer and consumer confidence is up.

This ties in with both the latest VFACTS data showing October sales down by only 1200 compared with October 2019 and reports from dealers to GoAutoNews Premium that new and used vehicles shortages are producing greater margins.

VACC CEO Geoff Gwilym said in a statement: “The first weekend of post-Stage Four lockdown saw a very buoyant buyers’ market, according to the dealers we surveyed.

“Vehicle sales on average were up more than 20 per cent for the corresponding period in 2019, and appointment levels are up to pre-COVID levels.”

The VACC said that consumers in dealerships over the weekend of 31 October/1 November had noted and appreciated the way dealers were trading with comprehensive COVIDSafe Plans in place.

“Buyers felt safe at dealerships and were patient with the new COVIDSafe conditions. They see the work dealers have put in to making the dealership experience safe.”

Geoff Gwilym

VACC’s dealer survey showed that outer metropolitan Melbourne regions were particularly strong, including areas such as Frankston, Werribee and Melton.

One Frankston dealership sold 28 new cars in one day, a Saturday sales record at the dealership. The Melton dealerships surveyed reported sales were up 33 per cent week-on-week (2019 versus 2020).

Double-digit sales were also reported at several Werribee dealerships.

“New-car sales are strong, at this stage. But dealers report that used cars are still difficult to source. This is expected to ease with increased used-car trade-ins as new-car sales increase,” Mr Gwilym said.

“It has been a successful first weekend of trading, with great sales numbers, but dealers need certainty.

“The State Budget on November 24 could assist dealers if the Andrews government provides motor vehicle duty relief. We need to see duty cut on aftermarket accessories sold with new cars.

“We need to see the super luxury duty removed, too,” Mr Gwilym said.

By Neil Dowling

Kelley Blue Book