New car sales figures released for the month of March are the worst monthly result in more than a decade but only serve as an indicator of the hardship Dealers will face in coming months.
“In March many Dealers were fulfilling orders placed in the previous month or earlier, meaning the figures don’t reveal the full extent of the impact of the corona virus,” AADA CEO James Voortman said.
“Dealers are reporting that consumer enquiry levels have dropped dramatically over the last three weeks while important fleet orders from rental car and tourism operators have dried up,” he said.
“With State and Federal Governments issuing advice strongly discouraging the public from leaving home and visiting Dealerships, showroom and workshop activity is severely restricted,” Mr Voortman said.
Given these factors, the AADA expects sales in April to contract even more significantly.
“New car Dealers across Australia have mostly managed to keep their doors open and service the needs of their customers, but the impact of the corona virus will push some Dealers over the edge,” Mr Voortman said.
“Unfortunately Dealers don’t qualify for many of the stimulus packages because of their high turnover and staff levels,” he said.
“Governments need to understand that new car Dealers operate on very low margins and turnover alone is not a metric that can be used to determine their survivability in such adverse trading conditions,” he said.
“What we are saying to governments is please talk to us when designing and delivering these packages,” he said.
“Dealers are big employers, pay large amounts of taxes and duties and operate as generous and upstanding corporate citizens in the communities they serve. Dealers have never asked for a handout before, but need all the help they can get now, if they are to survive,” Mr Voortman said.