Demand for motorbikes, scooters and mopeds has shot up as commuters look for alternatives to public transport to get to work.
Enquiries sent to sellers of mopeds and scooters were triple last year’s levels in the first week of June, after doubling in the last week of May, according to online marketplace Auto Trader.
Views on adverts for mopeds increased by 32% year-on-year in the last week of May and 48% in the first week of June, the company said. Advert views for motorbikes, which tend to be more expensive, were also up by a third at the start of the month.
The government still advises anyone who can to work from home, and it has also advised people to avoid public transport if possible to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection. About 61% of British people said they would feel uncomfortable using public transport even if the lockdown is eased further, in a poll published last month by Ipsos Mori.
Face masks will be compulsory on all forms of public transport from Monday 15 June, to try to limit the spread of the disease as shops reopen in the next step of easing the coronavirus lockdown.
The government and campaigners have urged people to consider active travel modes such as cycling or walking to get to work, pointing to the health benefits. Sales of push bikes have also soared during the lockdown, according to retailers, in one of the few areas of the economy to have benefited strongly.
However, for longer journeys scooters and lower-powered mopeds can be more attractive, given lower costs and the very limited space for a large increase in car traffic in major UK cities.
Rory Reid, a former BBC Top Gear presenter who joined Auto Trader last year to run its YouTube channel, said: “They [mopeds] are relatively cheaper options for commuting, they can help you get around easily in congested urban areas, and they’re easier to park in tight spots. They can also be a much more viable option than walking or cycling for the majority of people whose commute is longer than five miles.”
However, car dealers have already reported that some customers are looking to buy vehicles because of a continued aversion to public transport for commutes that are too long.
More people are also considering buying caravans and motor homes as Britons prepare for a summer of staycations. Advert views for caravans and motor homes on Auto Trader were up by 46% and 51% year-on-year respectively.
Some in the UK tourism industry hope a staycation boom will make up for some of the lost revenues from foreign tourists. Data from the Office for National Statistics published on Thursday suggested the average Briton spent £312 per year on holidays in the UK in the year to March 2019, compared with £1,456 per year on package holidays abroad.