Used car inquiries strong in July but dealers struggled with depleted stock levels

Time 1 year ago

Dealers struggled with matching high levels of used car inquiries with depleted stock levels in July, new data shows.

Average dealer stock levels for the month were down 30 per cent year on year from 66 to 47 units and were also down on June’s average of 51 units, according to eBay Motors Group’s latest Market View.

The report showed the fall was largely driven by car supermarkets where stocking levels dropped 52 per cent year on year from 516 to 247 units. Franchised dealer sites saw stocks drop by 13 vehicles to 54, while independents saw a more modest drop of just five units to 44.

However, buyer inquiries in July, made by phone calls and emails, were up 24 per cent on pre-lockdown levels recorded at the beginning of March and 153 per cent higher than the lowest point of the lockdown.

With high numbers of buyers chasing fewer available cars, average days in stock improved month on month from 73 to 66 days, although still significantly above the 41 days averaged in July 2019.

Dermot Kelleher, head of marketing and research at eBay Motors Group, said: ‘Our July Market View analysis shows a sector grappling with the challenge of meeting high customer demand with depleted stocks.

‘With auction and remarketing companies reporting high numbers of trade buyers going online to source stock, some dealers are going outside of their comfort zones and working hard to replenish forecourts.’

Kelleher added: ‘The coming weeks will be crucial for dealers looking to bounce back by satisfying the pent-up demand shown by the high volume of inquiries their online activities are generating.’

The firm also found stability in used car list prices, which dropped an average of just 0.6 per cent for the top 50 makes and models, from £12,865 to £12,791.

Petrol remained the fuel of choice for used car buyers, accounting for 54 per cent of all searches and 52 per cent of dealer stock, the same level as last year.

Interest in diesel remained high with 44 per cent of views, marginally down from 45 per cent last year, accounting for 45 per cent of stocks, compared with 46 per cent last year. Diesel cars matched petrol cars in the time they spent on the forecourt, both averaging 65 days.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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