Report shows possible roadmap to post-lockdown UK car industry recovery
28 April 2020
Author: Simon Harris
The UK used car industry is still mainly closed for business with prices down by just 0.1% during recent weeks, but a new Indicata Market Watch report shows green shoots of recovery for European countries coming out of lockdown following from the impact of Covid-19.
It sheds light on how resale values will fare in the next few weeks as the UK prepares its phased relaxation of the current lockdown rules.
Market Watch tracks used car sales volumes and price changes by country on a real-time basis, and data from the 19 April shows positive signs that car dealers coming out of Covid-19 lockdown are reviewing and re-pricing their stock, which is helping fuel consumer demand. This is evident in Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.
Although these trends are positive, there are no strong signs yet that the used market will bounce back quickly to previous levels. Heavily locked down countries such as the UK, Spain, France and Italy are yet to see dealers start trading and respond to a fall in consumer demand by changing their pricing strategy and sales remain very low.
On 12 April Austria became the first country to ease lockdown restrictions for the motor industry with smaller dealers being able to open alongside garden centres, DIY stores and small shops.
According to Indicata's report, its typical run rate of 1,300 used car sales per day fell to 300 during the lockdown, but within just seven days has risen to 730 used cars, which is just over half of its original level.
In Germany dealers opened for business on 20 April. During its 2020 peak it saw 16,500 sales per day, falling to 5,500 during lockdown where dealers saw restricted used car trading. The reports suggests early signs of life are starting to emerge, which follows a similar trend to Austria.
In Denmark dealers have been allowed to trade during lockdown, but many have chosen not to. Easter bank holiday trading is normally strong and there were signs of increased used car demand as consumer confidence improved during that period, with used car sales reaching their highest for four weeks.
In the UK, Spain, France and Italy the majority of dealers remain closed with minimal used car trading. In Spain we are seeing a reduced number of used cars listed for sale online as dealers reduce their advertising costs while the market is still so restricted.
In the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland and Turkey used markets have stabilised to varying degrees. The Netherlands has remained stable with sales at 60-65% of normal levels, with the Easter weekend seeing a spike in sales. Turkey is now being restricted by a series of short-term lockdowns, but still its used market is performing better than many others in Europe.
Poland's initial sharp drop off has stabilised supported by the government easing market restrictions, while Sweden remains the strongest market during the pandemic performing at 90% of its previous levels, predominantly due to fewer government restrictions in place.
Belgium showed a small increase in cars removed from the internet, however, like Spain, these were not sales, but dealers not renewing their advertising subscriptions. Portugal continues to reinforce the difficulty of the used market for some countries badly affected by Covid-19.