The latest Auto Trader Market Insight report for December provides an overview of the new and used car market, used car price movements and outlines four trends that marked the automotive sector in 2020.

Here’s a summary of the report which can be downloaded via the link below.

‘Cautious optimism’

There’s “cause for optimism into Q1 2021” as potential buyers’ visits to Auto Trader’s website were up 20.3% in December 2020 YoY.


Like-for-like prices increased from 2019 in every month following the March lockdown, driven by sustained high demand and limited supply. YoY price increases were maintained at 8.1% in December, marking the ninth consecutive month of like-for-like increases. Supply has eased but almost all car types are still behind 2019 levels.

According to the latest data from Auto Trader, last week (11 – 17 January), the average retail price grew 7.7% year-on-year (YoY) on a like-for-like basis, which is a marginal decrease from the 7.8% recorded a week earlier but marks the 37th consecutive week of price growth.

Looking at the different fuel types, the average price of a used diesel increased 9.5%. Although demand for the fuel type dropped -6.4%, the levels of supply fell more sharply at -9.9%. In contrast, despite the levels of demand for used petrol increasing -3.1% YoY, it was outperformed by the levels of supply in the market, which increased 7.7% last week.

2020: four key trends

  1. A boost for car ownership

The pandemic heightened people’s focus on personal space; many think that owning a car is more important than ever before, with many trying to avoid public transport. By the end of 2020, 35% said that owning a car is more important than it was before the pandemic.

  1. Digital car buying

Lockdown had an immediate but lasting impact on consumer behaviour, with years of digital acceleration taking place in mere months, as buyers now look for a ‘seamless, blended approach’.

  1. EV Breakthrough

2020 saw plenty of entrants to the new EV market and a maturing used sector. Premium brands now account for over a third of all used EVs. One in eight of Auto Trader’s 10.4 million monthly visitors is now looking at electric cars.

  1. The importance of data

When the first lockdown happened, experts warned of likely drops in stock value, but continued demand and limited supply resulted in higher, not lower prices. Prices increased by 4% in 2020 vs 0.5% in 2019.

View the full Auto Trader market report here