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France 11-15 May 2020: Lockdown ends, sales lift but showroom traffic remains low

France ended its national lockdown on May 11, with inhabitants now able to get out without having to fill a movement certificate. Business and school reopening are less strict in “Green” departments, whereas “Red” departments remain relatively constrained (see map below). So how have new car sales performed over the first week of “déconfinement” as it is called in France? According to AAA Data, the week before the end of the lockdown (May 4-8) was actually the worst since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, with sales down -90% year-on-year, perhaps in anticipation of the easing of restrictions the following week.

Indeed local outlet Autoactu.com, citing a study by Auto-ways.fr, says that during the May 11-15 week new car sales to private buyers are up 12% year-on-year to 11.298 and company sales including leases are up 14.5% to 5.970. As holiday schedules and restrictions are still unclear in France, short-term rental sales remain in dire straits at -85% to 880 units. However this uptick is almost solely due to registrations of vehicles ordered before the lockdown and awaiting delivery, as showroom traffic remains “modest” according to the CNPA, with new car order books not filling up.

CNPA also quotes an OpinionWay survey that says among the 39% of French looking at buying a new car in the near future, 51% have postponed their decision by at least a year. According to AAA, 85% of French people consider private cars to be the safest way to move around post COVID-19

Previous month: France April 2020: COVID-19 lockdown pulls sales down -88.8% to lowest April volume in 70 years

One year ago: France May 2019: Citroen (+23.1%) continues recovery, Renault Clio 5 arrival reshuffles models and private sales order

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