More than a quarter of Brits would buy a car online without a test drive, research reveals

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A recent study of UK consumers, conducted by automotive retailer Peter Vardy, found that over a quarter of Brits would be happy to buy a car online, having never seen the vehicle in person.

By analysing the latest consumer data from the Office of National Statistics, the research shows that online shopping is bigger than ever, with £1 in every £5.50 being spent on online purchases. But whilst consumers have embraced online shopping for small value items such as food, books and clothes, how confident are British shoppers when it comes to more expensive purchases?

High value items Brits have bought online

  • Holidays – 70.9%
  • TVs – 69.5%
  • Computers – 63.9%
  • Furniture – 54.6%
  • Jewellery – 40.4%
  • Cars – 27.2%
  • Property – 11.3%

When it comes to spending large amounts on a single online purchase, the research shows that British shoppers are open to spending big on digital purchases. Over a third of consumers questioned stated that they would spend up to £1,000 on a single purchase from an online store, with the most popular purchases covering holidays, electronics and furniture.

However, over a quarter of British consumers stated they would be happy to go even bigger by purchasing a car online, having never seen the vehicle or taken it for a test drive. Scotland is home to the most advanced online shoppers in the country, with 40% of those in Glasgow and 45% of those in Edinburgh stating they would happily purchase a car online without seeing it in person.  When it comes to the exact amount shoppers are willing to part with online for big ticket items, 1 in 10 British shoppers stated they were happy to spend up to £25,000 on a single online purchase.

Adam Waterhouse, 25 from Leeds, recently spent £30,000 on a new Audi, having never seen the car in question until he went to pick up the keys;

“I spent around a week looking at various YouTube reviews of the make and model before buying the car, which I was able to fit in around my own schedule instead of making a trip to the dealership.

“I decided to look online mainly due to price, as I was able to browse through a number of different options without having to worry about haggling.

“As soon as I’d made the decision on the car I wanted, I was able to contact the dealer directly and was in touch with them throughout the process via e-mail. As there was constant communication, I was never really worried about the purchase.”

But it’s not just price that is driving shoppers towards online shopping for high value items, with over a third (39%) stating that they mainly prefer online shopping as they don’t have to talk to salespeople or be in crowded places. 18-24 year olds are the most likely to shun the high street, with 46% stating that they would be happy to purchase high value items online, as long as they don’t have to speak to anyone regarding the purchase. Whilst this could point to a worrying trend of social avoidance, it also shows that shoppers are taking back control and utilising online resources to research their purchase options before buying, as opposed to discussing the finer details with a sales professional.