According to the latest data from Auto Trader’s Retail Price Index, which is based on pricing analysis of circa 900,000 vehicles every month, the average price of a used car in April reached £13,864. It marks the first year-on-year (YoY) growth on a like-for-like basis (albeit at 0.1%) since July 2019.

Since the beginning of the lockdown on 23 March, Auto Trader’s data scientists have observed a market that is “largely on hold”. In normal trading conditions, approximately 2,500 – 3,000 retailers adjust the price of their stock every day. Last week this figure had fallen to approximately 1,075, a year-on-year decline of 63% and just 232 more than the previous week. Typically, 21% - 25% of retailers change prices on a daily basis, but last week, just 9% did, indicating the majority of retailers are yet to begin repricing stock.

Last week, an average of 6,000 vehicles were being repriced daily, which is 68% lower than the same period last year (circa 17,500 – 24,000). 56% of stock being repriced is by independent retailers.

In terms of the amount of readjustment, prior to the lockdown, of those retailers changing their prices, the average amount was £250 - £550. Last week the average price change was £277. The average reduction for independent retailers was £210, and for franchise retailers, it was £358. It highlights that whilst the movement in prices are coming back to pre-COVID-19 levels, there remains a small number of retailers adjusting a very limited volume of vehicles.

The number of people searching for a new or used car on Auto Trader has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, with over a million visiting the marketplace every day.

Richard Walker, Auto Trader’s director of data and insights, said “It’s reassuring to see that retailers are not cutting prices” as “large price adjustments on a mass scale will have a major detrimental impact on the financial health of the industry”.

Fuel type prices

Last month, a paused market was evident in the performance of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The average sticker price of a second-hand petrol vehicle in April was £12,623, which on a like-for-like basis was a 1.7% YoY increase and the highest rate of growth since May 2019. And whilst diesel prices continued to contract, at -0.7% (£14,724) it marked the lowest rate of decline since June last year.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) performed less positively, recording a -2% decline in average price (£22,132), the highest rate of contraction since July 2016. Similarly, the average price of a pure electric vehicle (EV) has fallen consecutively every month this year. In April, the average asking price of an EV was £25,657, -3.2% down YoY.