• The average price of a used car in December was £18,030 – up 3.4% year-on-year and the 33 consecutive month of year-on-year growth
  • As is typical during the festive period, December saw a -0.4% decline on November
  • Consumer visits to Auto Trader records 10% year on year spike in December, boosted by launch of new marketing campaign

Auto Trader data indicates the used car market has entered the New Year in a robust position, with both retail prices and consumer demand stable in December. The Auto Trader Retail Price Index, which is based on daily pricing analysis of circa 900,000 vehicles across the market, and as of this month used by the Office of National Statistics to feed its inflationary measures, reveals the average retail price of a used car was £18,030 in December. It marks a 3.1% year-on-year (YoY) increase on a like-for like basis.

Although the rate of growth is down on previous highs, last month’s performance is off the back of the massive 30.5% YoY increase recorded in December 2021. And highlighting just how quickly and how sharply used car prices have risen in recent years, the average retail price of a used car in 2022 was a record £17,548; up considerably on the £15,204 recorded in 2021, the £13,538 in 2020, and the £12,999 in 2019.

As per typical seasonal trends, retail prices saw a marginal decline between November and December, dipping -0.4% on a like-for-like basis. With the exception of 2021, average retail prices have fallen month-on-month every December since Auto Trader began tracking them in 2011 (e.g., dropping -0.4% in 2020, -0.2% in 2019, and -0.9% 2018), which is a consequence of the market easing over the festive period.

A further indicator of market health is the speed in which used cars leave retailers’ forecourts. Auto Trader’s data shows that used cars took an average of 29 days to sell in December, which is the fastest December since the start of the pandemic. Although taking marginally longer to sell against 2021, cars sold faster in 2022 compared to pre-COVID levels, taking a monthly average of just 29 days to sell. This is versus a monthly average of 27 days in 2021, 31 in 2020, and 30 in 2019. The fastest selling used car in 2022 was the Toyota Yaris Cross, which took an average of just 16 days to sell.

Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of National Franchised Dealers Association which represents car and commercial retailers across the UK commented: “As supply constraints have impacted the availability of new cars reaching forecourts and matching orders, the used car market has flourished in 2022. Auto Trader’s Retail Price Index for December reveals 3.4% year-on-year growth, and a staggering 33 months of consecutive year-on-year growth, highlighting the strength of the used car market. Franchised dealers remain cautiously optimistic going into 2023, that the market will remain in a stable position against the backdrop of economic uncertainty and that demand for vehicles will remain robust.”

Commenting on the data, Auto Trader’s Director of Data and Insight, Richard Walker, said:In response to the barrage of negative newspaper headlines, one would be forgiven for predicting the worse for this year. But against a backdrop of political and economic turbulence, used car prices, and the market more broadly, has remained stable, which means we’re starting 2023 in a robust position. And whilst the market won’t be immune to financial instability, there’s a range of factors unique to the automotive sector which should insulate it from some of the more extreme economic disruption predicted for 2023. This gives us a cautious but confident outlook for the year ahead.”