The latest data from Auto Trader reveals used car price growth remains exceptionally high, fuelled in part by record levels of consumer demand in the market.

Based on the circa 484,000 used vehicles currently advertised on its marketplace, the same week (12th – 18th April) retailers across England and Wales were able to fully reopen their forecourts, the average price of a used car increased 5.7% year-on-year (YoY) on a like-for-like basis. It marks 49 weeks of consecutive price growth.

Last week saw a notable spike in consumer activity on Auto Trader, with an average of 2.2 million cross platform visits every day, which is a 38.8% increase on the same period in 2019[1]. By the weekend, daily visits had accelerated to 2.4 million. What’s more, the average time on site also increased, with consumers spending an average of 20.3 million minutes every day on the marketplace, which is up 35% on 2019.

Looking at the Auto Trader Market Insight tool, the level of supply in the market last week fell -4.3% when compared to 2019, whilst demand increased 39.2% against the same period.

Commenting, Auto Trader’s director of data and insight, Richard Walker, said: “Despite most retailers making a huge success of online retailing during the lockdown, it’s extremely satisfying to see last week’s full reopening of forecourts being met with such strong levels of consumer demand on our marketplace. Along with the anecdotal feedback from our retailer partners of a very busy week it gives us great confidence in the outlook for the rest of 2021. And with the new car market down just 4% on 2019 so far in April, this bounce-back shouldn’t be limited to just used car sales either. However, retailers mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking we’ve returned to a pre-COVID retail environment. Consumer behaviour and expectations have evolved, and so to really make the most of this potential, businesses must continue to utilise their buy online infrastructure to create a blended online-offline experience.”

Pricing behaviour highlights confidence in market health

Looking at the pricing behaviour of retailers last week, the number of those making price changes and the value of their adjustments highlight just how much confidence they have in the strength of the market.

An average of 2,314 retailers made daily price adjustments, which is 84 more than the same period in 2019. However, a total of 12,416 vehicles were repriced during the week, which is 1,581 fewer compared to 2019, and even 1,934 fewer than the prior week. What’s more, the data also suggests retailers were making smaller reductions to sticker prices, averaging at -£192, which is -34% less than the average adjustment made in 2019.

Used diesel and petrol record robust price growth

Looking at the data on a more granular level, the movements in petrol and diesel prices largely mirror the wider market, with both recording robust rates of growth.

The average price of a used diesel car increased 8.1% YoY last week, which was a marginal decrease on the 8.3% YoY growth recorded the prior week. Used petrol prices grew a more conservative 4.9% YoY, however, which was flat against the prior week.

Like its traditionally fuelled counterparts, the average price of a used Volume electric vehicle (EV) increased last week, up 1.1 % YoY. However, whilst there’s healthy levels of demand for Premium[3] EVs in the market, it failed to match the very strong levels of supply; as a result prices continued to contract, down -4.1% YoY.

[1] It’s now more accurate to compare the current performance against 2019 given the growing impact of COVID-19 this time last year. 12th – 18th April 2021 versus 8th- 14th April 2021

[3] Premium EV brands categorised as: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, Tesla, Volvo, MINI, DS AUTOMOBILES, Lexus, Abarth, Alfa Romeo