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Used car market entering second quarter with momentum as new records set, says Auto Trader

  • Average price of a used car was £16,695 in March, says Auto Trader
  • That was down 9% year on year but just 0.7% month on month
  • Used cars sold at a record pace in March, taking just 25 days to leave forecourts

Time 12:12 pm, April 3, 2024

The speed of sale and levels of customer engagement for used cars on Auto Trader reached record levels last month, it was revealed today.

The online automotive marketplace said it showed that the used car market had entered this year’s second quarter with plenty of momentum behind it.

March also saw more signs of retail prices stabilising as movements followed more usual seasonal patterns.

According to Auto Trader’s Retail Price Index, which is based on 800,000 daily pricing observations, the average price of a used car was £16,695 in March.

That was down 9% year on year (YoY), but just 0.7% month on month (MoM) in line with seasonal pre-Covid norms.

Retail prices were steadying largely because of favourable market dynamics, said Auto Trader, adding that its onsite data showed that overall consumer demand, as determined by levels of searches and advert views on its marketplace, rose by 6% YoY last month.

That outpaced current levels of supply growth, which were up by 0.7% – the lowest level of supply growth since last July.

March also saw a record 89.1m cross-platform visits to Auto Trader, marking an 8% YoY increase, and a 9% rise on February’s otherwise very strong performance of 81.7m.

Across the quarter, Auto Trader received more than 256.4m visits to its marketplace – up 18.7m on Q1 2023.

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Used cars took an average of just 25 days to leave retailers’ forecourts last month, which was two days faster than in February and three days quicker than March last year.

It also marks the fastest monthly pace recorded by Auto Trader since it began tracking the average speed of sale in January 2021.

Although transactions were down some 1% on March 2023, partly because of some retailers being caught out with difficulties finding replacement stock for cars that sold quicker than anticipated, Auto Trader’s retail sales data indicates a 2% YoY increase across the quarter.

Richard Walker, pictured, Auto Trader’s data & insights director, said: ‘Despite an uncertain economic and political backdrop, we’ve seen a positive start to 2024, with demand remaining robust throughout the quarter.

‘But whilst our outlook for the rest of the year is confident, retailers face an incredibly nuanced and complex market, which will continue to move at pace.

‘To navigate the market, and to identify both future opportunities and risks, we’ve made more of our insights and intelligence available than ever before.

‘Judging by the fact our valuations data alone was used over 240 million times last year – around 100 million more times than in 2022 – we can see just how powerful it’s been in informing key retail decisions.’

Auto Trader’s data also now forms part of the Office for National Statistics’ calculations for inflation.

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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