Used car sales nosedive in Q2

Published:  11 August, 2020

Even used car sales have not been immune to COVID-19, as new figures from the SMMT showed that sales in the  UK’s second-hand car market fell by by 48.9% in the second quarter of 2020.

The drop followed a busy January and February, with growth going into reverse as Coronavirus lockdown swept the UK. Motorists were hardly driving, so trading in their existing car was for many going to be a very low priority.

The pace of decline eased as the quarter progressed, from a peak year on year loss of 74.2% in April to 17.5% in June, as transactions began to restart.

Demand for used battery electric vehicles, which grew by 44.8% in the first quarter, fell in the second by 29.7% to 2,288 units, although market share remained stable at 0.2%. At the same time, sales of plug-in hybrids dropped 56.3%, with just 3,249 changing hands. Meanwhile, petrol and diesel car transactions decreased by 49.2% and 48.5% respectively, although combined they still accounted for 98.3% of sales in the quarter, equivalent to 1,021,963 units.

In the first six months of 2020, used car transactions were down by 28.7%, with 2.89 million units changing hands. The second quarter represented more than 85% of the 1.16 million lost sales so far this year.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes: “As devastating as these figures are, with full lockdown measures in place for the whole of April and May, they are not surprising. As the UK starts to get back on the move again and dealerships continue to re-open, we expect to see more activity return to the market, particularly as many people see cars as a safe and reliable way to travel during the pandemic.”

Andy Hamilton, CEO at LKQ Euro Car Parts, observed:“We expected to see sales pick up in June, as lockdown restrictions were relaxed, and with people being encouraged to use private modes of transport. Assuming this continues, it’s good news for the independent aftermarket, as older cars that are out of warranty will likely be taken to local garages for service and repair work, rather going back to the dealers.

“After an extended period with little to no business coming through the workshop doors, this will give independent garages a welcome boost, and an opportunity to expand their customer base. And with a spike in MOTs on the way as well – as those that were deferred in lockdown will soon need to be completed, alongside those that are also due – the key for garages is going to be managing this demand safely and effectively."

Andy added: “We’re committed to helping garages implement safety and hygiene measures in the workshop, and providing them with the latest tech to improve efficiency and accuracy in terms of quoting for, scheduling and carrying out work, to deliver a professional customer experience from start to finish.”

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