Jan 29 2010 Ian Johnson
Bodyshops feel the impact
THE CREDIT crunch has collided with the car crunch repairers and quite a number are going out of business.
A recent report into the car body repair industry has revealed that the recession has accelerated the gradual shrinkage of Britain's bodyshops.
In fact, the winter freeze came just in time to save some of the survivors from going out of business, but the medium term promises no relief for this hard-pressed sector.
It appears that from 2007 to 2009 privately-funded and insurance car body repairs are down 10% and 9% respectively.
Couple this with the fact that after inflation, average body repair costs have fallen 5% and the value of the UK collision repair market dropped by 11% you can certainly see why 350 primary bodyshops have closed in the last three years and over 2,000 in the past decade.
The survey by Trend Tracker forecasts that by 2015 there will be a 5% decline in repair volumes and 18% decline in primary bodyshop numbers to 3,155.
And some bodyshops are teetering on the brink because advances in car technology are posing problems for non-specialist, all-makes repairers who cannot afford to invest in new techniques and training, so threatening further attrition of bodyshop numbers after the recession.
Complex repairs also increase the rate of un-repairable total losses. Furthermore, insurers and used car dealers are increasingly use SMART (Small to Medium Area Repair Techniques) practitioners rather than bodyshops for small repairs.
This is just another indicator of how the car trade is gradually changing.
I take my hat off to advances in car technology, but if the people who have to do the fixing are struggling then there is something very wrong.