According to the latest data from Auto Trader, the UK’s largest marketplace for new and used vehicles, demand for commercial vehicles (CV) has been largely unaffected by the latest lockdown in England and the broader restrictions imposed across the UK.
CV specific visits to Auto Trader’s marketplace fell 15% in the three days between the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 31st October and the start of the new restrictions, however it quickly returned to growth during the first weekend of the lockdown, increasing 38% on the same period last year.
Following the reopening of forecourts in June, CVs have recorded a period of exceptional levels of demand, bouncing back far quicker than other markets over the summer. In August, visits to Auto Trader’s vans platform were up 52% year-on-year (YoY), whilst there were a record 17.2 million CV advert views, which represents an additional six million compared to August 2019
CV performance continued into October, and despite the government’s introduction of the three-tiered coronavirus system and the 17-day national ‘firebreak’ in Wales, buyer behaviour has remained unphased, with visits up 48% YoY and advert views per stock item up 106% YoY. This increase in traffic resulted in a 51% YoY increase in the number of leads being sent to CV retailers in October, with double the email, text and chat leads per advert compared to pre-lockdown levels.
The sustained levels of demand, coupled with ongoing supply constraints in the market, has had a significant impact on used CV prices. In October the average price of a used van on Auto Trader was £15,482; 20% higher than the average £12,900 sticker price in October 2019. It marks 10 months of consecutive price growth for used CVs.
Despite the increase in prices, and further highlighting the strong levels of demand in the market, CVs are spending significantly less time on retailers’ forecourts, with the average days to sell reducing by 37% YoY to just 26 days.
Commenting on the findings, Leanne Thomson, Auto Trader’s Van Lead, said: “Despite the tighter restrictions across the UK, our data points to a very buoyant CV market. Not only has the huge level of demand that we’ve been tracking over the summer remained, but our latest consumer research indicates that over 50% of buyers are open to using click & collect and home delivery services. So, whilst forecourts have had to shut temporarily in England, this growing propensity for online retail means retailers are able to continue selling in a meaningful way; and with prices continuing their upward trajectory, with a healthy margin too.”
Earlier this year Auto Trader introduced new features enabling buyers to research and take delivery of vehicles without the need to visits a showroom. This was further enhanced with the launch of its Buy Online hub last week, which enables buyers to search directly for the hundreds of thousands of vehicles available via click & collect and / or home delivery on the Auto Trader marketplace. There are currently circa 4,500 (4808) retailers offering click and collect services, and circa 5,500 on home delivery.