That figure represents a fall of 3.9 per cent when compared with the same period last year. Auto Trader says this was due to an increase in volume of older stock on the market and a decrease in newer, higher priced vehicles, with the volume of three to 10 year old cars up eight per cent to 67 per cent and the volume of cars less than three years old down 10 per cent to 23 per cent.
The increase in the volume of older cars for sale reflects the SMMT’s car parc data which shows that at the end of 2011 the volume of vehicles less than three years old on UK roads was the lowest since 1996 accounting for 19 per cent of the car parc, a fall of three per cent since 2010.
In the first three months of this year the asking price of used cars less than three years old actually increased by one per cent (£14,612 to £14,797) while the price of cars aged more than three years old fell 7.3 per cent (£7,950 to £7,372) when compared with 2011.
In January the average asking price was £8,929, the highest it has been for five months, but in February and March the price began to decrease. The average price of £8,862 in March, down by 5.7 per cent compared with March 2011 and the greatest monthly year-on-year decrease, was the lowest March price for the last three years.
Tim Peake, group strategy director at Auto Trader said: ‘The increase in volume of older cars has resulted in an overall decrease in average prices. There are also fewer cars less than three years old in the market following the significant decline in new car registrations in 2008 and 2009, so those cars that are for sale can command a higher price.
‘The continuing shortage of good quality younger stock coming to market will also lead to higher trade prices. In this challenging market, dealers who will succeed will focus not just on trade-plus pricing but also retail-minus pricing. Using valuations data and live market data is key to a successful pricing strategy, which is critical given the current dynamic in the auto industry.
‘The winners will be those who seek to trade their way out of the present situation, being smart about buying appropriate stock, focusing heavily on stock turn and embracing the online opportunities to position themselves as internet car retailers. Put simply: in the current climate getting the right stock placed before the widest car buying audience and pricing this against a competitive retail market, is key to commercial success.’