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Used car sales down in 2020 but prices rise

‘Covid chaos’ saw used car sales fall 12.3% in 2020 but prices rose and there  has already been a sharp rise in demand in 2021.

Mike Jones, chairman of automotive business specialist ASE Global, will look at the state of the new and used car and van markets at the VRA AGM

Although used car sales in the UK fell 12.3% overall in 2020, prices are still higher than the start of the year

Latest data from Indicata shows what a rollercoaster year 2020 was for the used car sector.

Although used car sales rose by 4.9% in December, that was not enough to prevent the 12.3% market fall for the year, according to Indicata’s used car insights report.

UK sales growth in December mainly came from three-year-old cars and above, with minimal activity in the sub-12-month sector due to the extreme supply shortages that affected the market for the majority of 2020.

The UK market was only one of two of Europe’s largest used car markets to report a fall in sales, the other was France which fell by 4.9%. Meanwhile, Germany reported sales growth of 3.6%, Italy 4.5% and Spain by a healthy 25.7%.

In terms of prices, the market reached a peak in September and October but by December had fallen by 3.2%. However, the used market finished 2020 trading at a higher price level than when the market went into the first lockdown in March 2020.

Overall stock levels were 2.6% higher at the end of 2020 compared with January.

“2020 was a crazy with the majority of the used car industry closed during April and May and then pent-up demand sending demand and prices through the roof during the summer,” explained Jon Mitchell, Indicata UK’s group sales director.

“Despite the fall in sales we cannot forget prices are still higher than the start of 2020, but now dealers have to face up to challenge of buying and selling the right stock while reducing prices to quickly trade out of aging stock.

“Our INDICATA portal has already seen a significant rise in activity with dealers in January as they switch to managing their used car stock on a daily basis. We don’t see this focus changing until such time as the market opens back up for business and the potential of future lockdowns eases,” he added.

For a full and free copy of the 13-country Market Watch used car insights report, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.