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Exclusive: Survey finds that general public remain unaware of used car boom despite prices being at record levels

  • Survey finds general public remain largely unaware of used car boom
  • Almost 40 per cent of people think prices have fallen or stayed the same in last six months
  • Research also finds 78 per cent of people have never sold a car to a dealer

Time 3 months ago

The ongoing boom in used car prices largely remains a mystery to the general public, new data has revealed.

An exclusive survey conducted for Car Dealer by What Car? found that just over a third of people thought prices had actually dropped or stayed the same in the past six months.

A further 18 per cent thought a marginal rise of up to five per cent had occurred.


Around a quarter of those asked believed there had been a rise of between six and 10 per cent.

Overall, less than 20 per cent of people guessed that prices had gone up by more than 10 per cent this year.

It comes at a time of unprecedented strength for the used car market, largely as a result of the pandemic.

However, BCA recently said prices in the last weeks of June have been far more stable than some have suggested.


Experts believe that the lack of knowledge from the wider public can only be good news for those selling used cars.

Jim Holder, editorial director at What Car? told Car Dealer: ‘The pace of pricing change in the used car market is clearly set to catch buyers and sellers out, with nearly 40 per cent believing that the market has remained static or fallen in recent months. 

‘Obviously that’s potentially good news for those looking to sell their car – but a potential shock for those looking to buy. 

‘With the market showing no signs of slowing down yet, either, it’s a trend that is set to continue, and a watch out to retailers that they will have to continue to manage expectations.’

The survey also found that the vast majority of people have never sold a car to a dealer – or even considered doing so.

A whopping 78 per cent of people asked said they had never sold a car to a dealer without also buying one from them.

Perhaps worryingly for dealers, over half of those asked said they did not think they could sell a used car to a dealership without also buying a vehicle from them.

Holder added: ‘It’s quite shocking just how few people have sold a car to a dealer – or even considered doing so. 

‘That’s likely led by a perception that they won’t pay a good price for the car, and that the ease of selling to them doesn’t compensate for what they’ll pay.

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‘However, in the current market especially, with dealers short of quality stock and demand high, that seems like a mistake for sellers – and a potential opportunity for retailers if they can get the word out there and build a reputation for fair pricing and good service.

‘While getting the best price is clearly the strongest motivator for most sellers, a strong proportion of respondents recognised that they would be willing to trade that off for selling with less hassle – something retailers should be able to provide, and especially keen to do well, in the current climate. 

‘While they face strong competition from no-hassle online brands willing to buy up stock at the moment, the heat in the market would clearly make it worthwhile to explore these kinds of opportunities.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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