Used car values stable as consumer interest holds up

Average retail price of used cars has held stable in March with like-for-like prices remaining flat at -0.2%, at £13,601.

This comes as industry valuation companies have announced that no adjustments will be made to trade prices.

The Auto Trader Retail Price Index shows that – except for petrol, which recorded a small growth of 0.5% (£12,354) – all fuel types saw a small like-for-like dip in sticker prices last month.

Diesels declined -1.2% (£14,485), and in terms of alternatively fuelled vehicles, used prices fell -1.4% (£22,044). At -3.8% (£25,727), pure electric vehicles recorded the sharpest decline.

Auto Trader has said that the ‘lockdown’ introduced on 23 March in the UK produced a noticeable response from the market regarding pricing changes.

Typically, circa 12,000 price changes take place daily. The day before the restrictions on movement had been put in place, this increased to 17,055; a year-on-year growth of +26.5%.

However, after the Prime Minister’s announcement, price changes have fallen to an average of just 5,885; a -39.1% fall year-on-year.

Although consumers can’t visit retailers, figures show they are still interested in buying as there has been an increase in engagement across Auto Trader’s platform.

Over the last week of March, there was a high number of vehicles ‘saved’ – vehicle adverts saved as a favourite choice – an increase of 8% compared with the same period last year.

In addition, data for March reported a very high advert view per user session number, meaning that Auto Trader visitors are viewing more adverts per visit than normal.

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Auto Trader research shows that 88% of shoppers said they would spend the same amount or more time researching their next car while in lockdown, and 60% said they still want to buy, but not right now.

Approximately one in five (21%) said they’re currently in the research phase, while 15% said they’re looking to buy imminently.

Just 4% said that they are no longer looking to buy a car.

Richard Walker, Auto Trader’s data and insight director, said: “There’s no question the industry is facing a huge pressure, but to ensure we can return to health as quickly as possible; we urge retailers to resist the temptation to reduce prices.

“Many of our indicators suggest the market is capable of picking back up almost where we left off before the COVID-19 pandemic shook the industry, and we must be ready for when the Government restrictions lift.

“Despite consumers being unable to visit physical forecourts, they’re still visiting and engaging with digital showrooms. We can see that not only are they saving their favourite vehicles and using this time to research their next car, but they’re also making enquiries.

“It’s therefore more important than ever that retailers are visible online to capture this consumer demand and be ready to engage with potential customers. By doing so, they’ll be in the very best position for when they can reopen their doors.”




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