2020 Vision – the Outlook for 2020 Part 1

Christmas is looming large and so it seems appropriate to start looking to the motor retail and financing outlook for the year ahead. Yes, it’s time for our ‘2020 vision’, well it won’t be the last time you see or hear that expression in the weeks ahead!

John Hughes MD 

This latest blog is a ‘two-parter’ simply because in looking ahead there is plenty going on and while I’m keeping things at a high-level, there is a lot of ground still to cover. So, please look out for Part 2.

The Political Landscape

The political landscape has been and remains a dominant theme for the whole UK. The General Election is now behind us and whatever your political leaning might be, the result provides the potential for much-needed certainty. That said, it seems inevitable that there will be plenty of negotiations ahead. Politics and the economy will remain firmly on the radar moving forward.

Customer Confidence

Inevitably in the face of the political uncertainty, consumer confidence has been in decline. The most recent GfK Consumer Confidence Index remained unchanged at –14 in November.

Of most concern, the outlook for personal finance fell -3 in the index. While this could be an early sign of long-running weak economic confidence spreading to the way people view money matters as GfK themselves hypothesised, other factors may provide some scope for positivity. ONS data has just revealed that unemployment dropped by 23,000 to 1.31 million over the same period, while the number of people in work also fell. At the same time, average earnings excluding bonuses increased by 3.6%. This increase in spending power was down slightly from the ONS’ previous report and job vacancies showed the biggest annual drop in the number of job vacancies in nearly 10 years.

The political landscape has been muddying the water in this area, but the Brexit scenario has been in play for so long, that I can’t help wondering if there may be some in-built consumer ‘energy’ waiting to be released in the months ahead.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50388220

https://www.gfk.com/en-gb/insights/press-release/uk-consumer-confidence-flatlines-at-14-for-november-2019/

Regulatory Development

There are always new regulations coming down the road to greet and challenge us; the stand out item right now for the motor retail sector has to be the Financial Conduct Authority’s FCA) review of motor finance. With proposed changes due somewhere around the start of Q3 and the FCA expecting to see annual consumer savings of £165M, changes are afoot.

The proposed FCA changes will see increased transparency in commission disclosure required and the banning of discretionary rate setting by dealers. Once again, I’m going to see the positive side of this likely change. I’m hoping to see the industry building more confidence in used car finance from dealers which can help offset the £165M customer saving with more consumers opting for dealer finance.

What is certain, is that dealers and lenders will need to work even more collaboratively to turn challenge to opportunity; I think we can.

Digitisation

The impact of only online shopping on the High St has been clear; motor retailing is not immune. Consumers very evidently like online for shopping and banking; motor retailing and financing must embrace this rapidly emerging change, or surrender to online experts.

Well, that is it for Part 1, in the forthcoming Part 2, I’ll be considering the vehicle outlook and the potential that environmentalism may have on the market in the year ahead.

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