Used Car Market Update – June 2020

Robert Redman | 23 Jun 2020

About the author

Robert Redman

Forecast Editor

Robert is responsible for forecasting Glass’s future car values right across the market. He has been involved in the motor industry for almost 30 years, most recently as Passenger Car Risk Specialist in the Residual Value and Portfolio Department at Mercedes-Benz UK. He has also held key roles at Leasedrive, Masterlease, Vauxhall Masterhire, Leasecontracts, GE Fleet Services – and has also worked as a specialist classic car restorer. Robert is a contributing author for Autovista24.

The UK auction market restarted, in a very limited capacity, in April and continued to grow in May. A more “conventional” programme is being offered by most of the providers, although it remains exclusively online. Buyers appear to be adapting to this, with values and conversion rates improving helped by the recent reopening of retail sites.

Used car market conversion rate graph june 2020
Used car market sale price graph June 2020

Overall sale volumes are still low – around 25% of the pre-lockdown level – but are rising as the number of auctions increases and it is likely that we will see something close to a full auction programme by the end of June. However, these will be online only sales and it will be some time before the traditional physical auctions reopen. Buyers need to get used to a different kind of buying experience quickly whilst trusting the accuracy of inspections provided by the auction companies, as bidders will be unable to inspect cars prior to sales relying on the photographs and grading provided in online catalogues.

Unlike the wholesale market, the used car retail market has only recently restarted with sites able to open from the June 1. There was some online selling throughout lockdown but true indications of market activity will be confirmed when the results are analysed. Glass’s Live Retail pricing tool measures key retail metrics including the time a car spends on a retail forecourt before sale and the discount required to achieve that sale. Unsurprisingly, the Days to Sell report shows a steep increase in recent weeks, rising from an average of 40 days in March (pre-lockdown) to almost 80 days in May.

Whilst fossil fuelled cars are very similar to each other, it is interesting to see that alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) have fared worse, with AFVs averaging 86.6 days and Electric Vehicles (EVs) 97.2 days. It is similar with the average discount report, with AFVs and EVs requiring higher levels of discount. This may well be attributed to the inability of potential buyers to test drive prior to buying – many buyers of this kind of car are doing so for the first time and will want to “try before they buy”.

Used car market days to sell and discount graphs June 2020

Early indications for June are that the reopening of retail sites has helped to rejuvenate activity. The auction market has become much busier with marked improvements to conversion rates and values. It can be a little varied, however, with some vendors already appearing to be holding out for pre-lockdown values. This may be a little premature as volumes are also climbing and with all sales being online, unlike with physical sales it is very easy to jump from one sale to another if a bidder perceives too many “realistic” bids are going provisional.

BEV struggles continue as UK beats pre-pandemic registrations in October

30 Nov 2023

The UK’s new-car registration figures in October beat 2019’s numbers for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, highlighting the strength of the country’s...

Monthly Market Update: European used-car markets pick up speed in June

20 Jul 2023

Many European markets saw drivers purchase a used car more quickly in June. While absolute residual values (RVs) remained stable, RVs presented as a percentage...

Launch Report: MG4 proves budget BEVs can work in Europe’s growing market

27 Jun 2023

When MG returned to Europe’s automotive market, it was not the marque of old. Instead, this was a new brand, owned by Chinese carmaker SAIC,...

Yes, sign me up to Autovista24

* Mandatory

Sign up to receive the following email:
Autovista24: Essential automotive reading, data and intelligence – a daily update from the new Autovista24 website sent daily by Autovista Ltd, in English

We use pixels in our emails to monitor whenever you open, forward or click on the URLs in our emails. This helps us to monitor and measure the performance and effectiveness of our emails. We combine this with the information you provide above and your browsing information so that we can better tailor and improve our marketing to you and personalise your user experience on our website. By signing up, you are consenting to the use of your data for the purpose of sending you the selected emails and to the use of tracking pixels. You can withdraw your consent to receive our emails and the related tracking at any time by following this link to our Email Preference Centre and updating your preferences. For additional information on the processing of your personal data, please refer to the Autovista Group Privacy Policy and the Glass's Privacy Policy.