The relative strength of used car sales at the end of 2020 is a good omen for the prospects of a further bounceback once the current national lockdown is lifted, according to James Fairclough, boss of AA Cars.
“The gradual ratcheting up of lockdowns and Covid restrictions during the final months of 2020 took their toll on the economy as a whole, and the used car market was no different.
“The weakness of the sector during the final quarter was a disappointing end to a year that nevertheless saw used car sales recover strongly following the total shutdown of dealerships during the spring.
“Though total sales across the year were down on those of 2019, for the industry to close out the year as strongly as it did is an achievement few had thought possible during the depths of the first national lockdown.”
He said that even with a drop of 14.9%, the used car market still outperformed new car sales, which recorded a 29.4% fall in demand during 2020.
“The relative strength of used car sales at the end of 2020 is also a good omen for the prospects of a further bounceback once the current national lockdown is lifted.
“Even in this lockdown, demand remains high — searches for used cars on the AA Cars website in January were 19.7% higher than the same month last year, before the pandemic affected the UK.”
Used cars hold their value for longer, but the secondhand market also provides more affordable options for drivers, many of whom are more cautious about their finances in the current economic climate.
“While forecourts remain closed in the current lockdown, dealers will be preparing for a surge of pent-up demand once restrictions are lifted, and the UK’s successful vaccine roll-out is creating a sense of optimism about the year to come.
“It will be interesting to see whether habits formed during the pandemic, such as people opting to use a car to commute rather than public transport, will continue as society starts to unlock in 2021.”