Research conducted by automotive technology provider CitNOW found that 54% of customers expect to visit a dealership as part of researching their next car, compared to 48% in 2010.

Confounding the view from some quarters that the demise of motor retailers could be imminent, the new poll – conducted for the company’s Evolution of the Car Buyer report – shows the opposite.

• 56% have researched the car before they make a visit to a dealership.
• Interest in online video reviews as part of the research process had almost doubled (13% to 25%).
• 36% said they already knew the model they were looking to purchase.
• 60% expect to take a test drive.
• A significant minority – 11.5% - expect to buy a car when they visit.

Over 55s (69%) were the most likely to visit a dealership. Men were slightly more inclined than women to visit dealerships when choosing their next car.

Another key finding was that one third of those asked said they would consider buying their next vehicle entirely online.

The willingness to both purchase online and visit the showroom is perhaps reflective of the same trend – an increase in the trust consumers have in car retailers. Fuelled by a more transparent process which in turn has led to the inevitable boost in service levels, customer confidence seems to be rising.

“Motorists clearly still covet that face-to-face customer experience and want the buying journey to be a personal one with the dealership,” Carol Fairchild, the Commercial Director of CitNOW, said.