The July used car market data from Indicata, which gathers data from 13 countries across Europe, reveals that across the UK, used car sales fell 0.9% month-on-month, which is a drop of 13.3% YoY. For the first half of the year, sales are now 7.3% down on the same period last year and 4.3% lower than the first six months of pre-pandemic 2019.

Reflecting the fall in buyer demand, Indicata report that online B2C used stock levels going into July were 4.4% lower when compared to the start of June. A decline that reflects dealers’ ability to adapt to demand trends. However, it is worth noting that total stocks were 4.8% above those seen at the beginning of July last year.

While the sales performance is unlikely to come as a surprise to anyone in the trade, given the rising spectre of the cost of living crisis, it is disappointing.

While the overall market was down, online sales of used Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) in June went through the roof, up 96% compared to June 2021. Used hybrids were the only other powertrain to see year-on-year growth, with sales increasing 13%. Again this was unsurprising with record price levels seen for petrol and diesel, which peaked above £1 per litre at the start of June.

While the shift to BEVs was understandable, the capacity to react rapidly to stock up on BEVs, albeit supply was inevitably limited was again impressive. Arguably, it is not something other areas of retailing could claim to achieve because of the inevitably supply chain constraints. The shift to BEVs was spot-on, stock turn for them increased by 79% YoY to 11.0x, making it the fastest selling powertrain by some margin.

It is this agility to react that continues to help dealers to survive and often thrive. We saw it during the lockdown, and as we move into a more challenging trading period, I expect to see it again. In my experience, dealers do not need to be told about the importance of ‘lean’ methodologies and just-in-time stocking; they intrinsically understand the concepts because getting it wrong is so painful.

Much has been written about new car retailing models against a backdrop of digitisation and social change. For me, the evidence continues to be that while change may not always be liked by the retailer community when it is required, they can change and adapt with remarkable speed and this agility is their number one asset.

Well done everyone.

Richard Irving, Head of Field Sales

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