Used car sales continue to climb in the UK

15 Jun, 2021

There’s light on the horizon for many used car dealers, as car sales continue to climb. And, after the rock bottom sales of the early lockdowns, the news can’t come soon enough.

At the end of March 2021, used car sales had risen 32.3% year-on-year compared to 2020, with around 638,570 cars sold according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The Investors’ Chronicle predicts that the second-hand car market is set for ‘significant upward price pressure’, with car prices rising by the thousands in the last month alone.

The first quarter of 2021 still showed slightly weak numbers, although this was to be expected considering the slow start to the year. Likewise, with Boris Johnson’s recent announcement that the lockdown will be extended for another four weeks, it’s hard to say what the coming months hold – although it looks like used car sales are only going to rise.

Why is there such a huge rise on the horizon for used car sales?

The most obvious answer here would be the UK opening back up again, and you’d be right in thinking that this is playing a huge part in the increasing number of second-hand car sales. However, according to an article posted by Sifted,  there’s a ‘triple effect’ at play:

  • The pandemic: There have been supply chain issues within the new car market, specifically when it comes to sat nav chips. This has created a lull in the availability of new cars, pushing people to buy second-hand instead of brand new.
  • Concerns over sustainability: Buyers in the UK are becoming increasingly aware of consumer sustainability, which has led to many people buying products second-hand instead of shopping new all the time. This has extended to cars too, with an increasing number of drivers choosing to buy used cars instead of forking out for a new vehicle.
  • Evolving customer perceptions: There’s a combination of changing perceptions around used cars. As well as more customers who are willing to buy second-hand, there is an increasing number of people wanting to avoid public transport thanks to concerns over public health. Those unwilling to take public transport want a cheaper run-around to get them from A to B.

Car dealer giants prove how useful online trading can be

Many second-hand car salespeople will have heard of Motorway; a used car dealership which operates online and sources its cars from auctions and other dealers (unlike companies like Cazoo, which allow customers to sell the car themselves). It has just raised around £48 million in investment, and the average price of a used car on its website is 8.2% higher than it was 6 months ago; both of which are huge indications of the rising car sales around the UK.

AutoTrader – another used car giant – have also released a solid set of numbers for last year, which has been attributed to its significant online sales.

Having an online presence is something many used car dealers, big or small, have been encouraged to do as lockdown forced them to shut up shop to the public. If you’re able to, having some kind of website or even some social media presence could go a long way in helping you take advantage of the growing market.


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