Auto Trader's Commercial Director, Ian Plummer, offers his view of the latest used car transactions data
“With the majority of Q2 under lockdown conditions and all but a few retailers unable to sell in a meaningful way, it’s little surprise to see such a significant decline in used car sales. Over the full year, we almost certainly won’t make up for all the weeks of lost sales, however, from what we’re observing on our marketplace and what we’re being told by our customers, Q3 is tracking ahead of the same period last year, and is likely to finish that way.
“Whilst consumers couldn’t buy during much of Q2, we still saw a healthy level of demand. After an initial dip, it continued to increase during the second phase of lockdown with our audience, vehicle advert views and sales leads to retailers all above the previous year’s performance. And since showrooms have been able to reopen, we’ve seen these levels accelerate dramatically; in June we recorded 64 million visits across our platforms, and in July, a record 64.4 million, which is a 22.7% increase on the same period last year. This is translating to a significant increase in engagement with retailers too, with sales leads surging 67% year-on-year.
“This is all indicative of a market which was paused, rather than stopped, which was also reflected in average used car prices remaining stable during the period. Unlike the financial crisis, where retailers slashing their prices to entice car buyers had a very negative impact on the financial health of the market, with COVID-19, retailers have held firm. With such high demand, coupled with challenges in the supply chain, it’s absolutely the right decision, and in fact we’ve seen four months of consecutive growth in used car prices, with July recording the highest rate of growth since August 2018.”