Only a third of women feel ‘very comfortable’ shopping for a car alone

A new survey looking into female buying habits has found that only a third of women would feel ‘very comfortable’ buying a car in-store alone.

A recent survey of over 1,500 members of the public, ran by the UK’s leading used car retailer CarShop, has revealed that many women feel apprehensive about the used car buying experience and, as a result, don’t feel comfortable shopping for a used car alone.

The results from the survey show that, when asked about their preferred way of buying a car, 24% of male respondents said they would usually go in-store by themselves – and only 11% of women said the same. In fact, the survey reveals that women are six times more likely to shop in-store with another person, than to shop alone.

Furthermore, when asked how comfortable they would feel shopping in-store for a used car alone, less than one third (32%) of women opted for ‘very’, compared to a much larger 57% of men. Plus, at the other end of the spectrum, nearly four times as many female respondents said they would feel ‘not at all comfortable’ shopping in-store alone, compared to men.

“As a brand, we’ve always tried to make the car buying experience as enjoyable as possible for all our customers,” says CarShop’s Head of Marketing, Natasha Holland, “and we understand that, for some people – including many women – buying a used car can be daunting.

“I see this particularly reflected in the findings that show how many women would much rather shop for a used car with someone else. They may not be sure what to expect or may prefer to shop in the comfort of their own homes and in their own time – or to complete part of the process online so they don’t have to spend as long in store. We want the experience to be enjoyable for everyone – however they choose to buy.

“Intimidating showrooms, barky salesmen and awkward haggling over prices are a thing of the past – our prices are fixed so there’s definitely no hard sell. The car buying experience is transforming fast and we are determined to be at the forefront of taking any pressure or worry out of the car buying experience.”

CarShop’s survey also asked respondents what the best thing about the car buying experience is. While, for both men and women, the most popular option was ‘having a car that better suits my needs’, a higher proportion of women chose the experience ‘being easy, comfortable, and enjoyable’, compared to men. This could imply that women place more value on the feeling of the experience than men, who – as the following findings will reveal – place more value the outcome of the sale.

When asked what they would be most apprehensive about when buying a used car, nearly 10% more men than women chose ‘paying more than the car is worth’. But a higher percentage of women answered that they would feel most apprehensive about ‘being talked into buying a car or extras I didn’t want’ and ‘nervousness around going into an unfamiliar environment’.

Finally, and possibly most shockingly, six times as many women than men answered that they would feel most apprehensive about ‘the assumption that they did not know’ about cars.
“What these findings show us – and all other car dealerships listening – is that there is a real need to change,” adds Natasha, “Adding an online offering, as CarShop has already done, is a brilliant way of servicing customers that simply prefer to buy online but this is not a ‘clap your hands, job done’ moment.

“There will still be those out there who would rather put the dedicated time aside to come in-store, speak to an experienced team member, see the car for themselves next to other options and have the great feeling of driving it away. So, this environment must be as friendly and non-pressurised as possible – for all customers.

“To achieve this, CarShop has changed and we are going to do even more to make our stores as welcoming as possible. We’ve already made a huge investment in our online services to launch a Buy & Finance Online with a Click & Collect offering. We also use live video in our Service Centres, ditched store transfer fees, and committed to a Best Price Promise that means absolutely no awkward price negotiations. So no-one is unfairly advantaged for knowing a bit more about car specifications.

“We’re also making a huge effort to bring in specific training schemes and opportunities on the subject as well as recruit more female colleagues across a range of different departments and levels – from our on-the-ground sales and technical teams, to our Head of Business roles and leadership board.”

Natasha concluded, “In taking these actions, we’re giving car sales a much-overdue makeover, with a more approachable, comfortable and inclusive feel to it. And, as a woman who has been working in the industry for eight years, I – for one – couldn’t be happier to see it.”

25th March 2021

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring journalist Geraldine Herbert is the founder of wheelsforwomen. A jury member for the International Women’s World Car of the Year, she has been a motoring journalist for over ten years and is the motoring expert for Good Housekeeping Magazine and their “Women at the Wheel” section of You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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