MOTORS reports used cars sold faster in March, as buyers benefitted from ongoing price realignments on younger models

Lower advertised prices helped drive faster used car sales in March with vehicles averaging just 35 days on physical and virtual forecourts: six days less than February and two days less than 12 months ago.

All retailing sectors achieved faster month-on-month (MoM) and year-on-year (YoY) sales, led by car supermarkets at just 21 days, down from 29 in February, according to MOTORS’ Market View analysis of trends for March and Q1.

Franchised dealers averaged 29 days in stock, down from 34 in February, while independents improved MoM from 56 to 49 days.

Overall, the fastest sales were achieved by cars in the £10,000 – £14,999 (30 days) and £15,000 – £19,999 (32 days) price bands. The data also shows how younger 2-5 year old cars are becoming increasingly more affordable with prices averaging £19,505 in March, down 11% YoY from £21,837.

The average price of a used car on MOTORS dipped MoM by just £58 (or 0.6%) to £16,766 but was 9% down YoY, continuing a mostly downward trend since peaking at £18,903 in January 2023.

This ongoing realignment of used car prices is reflected by a 4% drop for the quarter, compared to Q4 2023.

Overall dealer stock levels remained stable MoM, averaging 42 vehicles, just one unit less than February, but down 6% YoY from 45 units. This suggests dealers are continuing to replace sold stock rather than commit cash to building inventories.

Independents were unchanged YoY and MoM at 34 units, an average also maintained for each month of Q1. Franchised dealers dipped by just two units MoM to 49, down from 53 last March.

However, car supermarket stocks dropped 6% MoM to 201 units, a YoY shortfall of 22%. These volumes have now been dropping since December 2023 with Q1 down 20% on Q4 2023.

Petrol continues to account for most dealer stock by fuel type, up slightly YoY from 48% to 49%, as diesel dipped marginally from 40% to 39%. Hybrid remained unchanged YoY at 7%, while electric improved slightly from 4% to 5%.

Half of all car buyer ad views in March were for diesel models, followed by petrol (45%), hybrid (4%) and electric (2%).

The fastest selling cars for the month were the electric Audi E-Tron and Polestar 2, both averaging 11 days in stock.

“Improved days to sell highlighted the appetite of in-market buyers to purchase in March, as well as showing the agility of dealers smartly sourcing stock and pricing competitively,” said Lucy Tugby, Marketing Director of MOTORS.

“The gradual downward realignment of prices is making younger cars priced under £20,000 more affordable for many consumers. This was certainly the case in March with buyers benefitting from price tags for 2-5 year old cars tracking at around £2,330 less than 12 months ago.

“Overall our Q1 data shows there are opportunities for dealers to be successful by combining high levels of online exposure with operational excellence to attract, win and retain customers,” said Tugby.