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A used car market in the Salwa Road area.
DOHA: The increasing popularity of social websites advertising used car sales has dealt a major blow to the dozens of second hand car showrooms on the Salwa Road.
The once vibrant second hand car market in the city had already been reeling under the protracted Salwa Road project work, which denied smooth access to the shops on both sides of the road for a long period. The road work is now almost over, but a bigger threat from online advertisements has shattered their hopes of a business recovery, lament the traders.
“The impact of websites like Qatar Sale on our business is more than evident. If you ask any shop in this area they will tell you the same thing,” said Mohammed Aslam, a Nepali salesman working at a used car showroom in the area.
The Peninsula also met the manager of the showroom, an Egyptian, who readily admitted that “business is down”. He evaded further questions, passing over the task to Aslam, who has been working with the shop for seven years.
“Most people wanting to sell their cars now post advertisements on the websites, along with photographs and fix the deal with customers over telephone. People still coming to our shops are mostly those who are not familiar with the online advertisements,” said Aslam.
In a bid to catch up with the new trend, many of these showrooms have also started advertising through social websites. However, they do not get the expected response since most buyers prefer to have a deal with the owner directly due to the relatively low prices.
“When someone brings a used car to our shop for sale, we reach an agreement on the price, adding QR2,000 as our commission. We pay the money only after the car is sold. The owner can take the car back anytime he wants,” explained Aslam.
He said on an average, the shop sells five to 10 cars in a month, which means that not a single car is sold on most days.
“Our business is hit very badly, mainly due to the online advertisements. But we are surviving somehow,” said Majdi Fathi, manager of Al Riyadh car showroom.
Saudi nationals had been the major customers of used cars sold in Qatar, until the authorities imposed a ban about five years ago on export of used cars to Saudi Arabia that are older than 2008 model.
“About 30 percent of our customers are still Saudi nationals,” said Fathi, adding that his showroom sells 15 to 20 cars in a month. The market has, however, invented some new techniques to survive. “To my knowledge, not a single showroom in this area was closed down despite the low sales,” said Aslam.
“Besides second hand cars, we buy some new cars from the dealers and keep them for customers who may face delays in purchasing the cars directly from the dealers. We also buy used cars and make the necessary maintenance and resell,” he added.
Several potential customers, on the other hand, have complained about the soaring prices of used cars in the local market. Showroom owners have also said that the prices had gone up due to an increase in the prices of new cars.
“ I have been looking for a second hand car for the past few months. Prices of most small cars above 2007 model range from QR25,000 to QR50,000 depending on the model, the manufacturer and the use. Prices are much higher in showrooms compared to what is offered by individual car owners in online advertisements,,” said an Arab expatriate.