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Expected Market Activity in February:
Following on from the new car market finishing at 2.476 million units in 2014, January has shown a strong start to 2015 delivering a 6.7% increase on January 2014 with 164,856 units and the best start to a year since 2007. This means the period of record market growth has reached its 35th consecutive month.
There has however been a fall in retail sales by 5.1% which is the first fall in four years. Company car registrations have masked this fall with an 18.1% increase in registrations for January 2015.
New vehicle demand appears to be back to pre-recession levels and consumer confidence with low interest rates and supported PCP schemes will support retail demand in 2015 as manufacturers push for their brand aspirations. If it falters there will be a plan B.
At a whole sale level lower sales have achieved higher average values and those values should continue through February as we build up to the plate change. Christmas closures seem to have washed through the system and days to sale with most vendors coming down. There are some vendors who are showing some disproportionately large numbers of vehicles available for sale which may put some pressure on the price of some model lines given the pressure to achieve new vehicle registrations for the first quarter.
To sum up, February should remain a strong retail month for used cars as orders build for delivery during the next plate change but may run behind previous years as incentives attract retail buyers into potentially late low mileage and new vehicles. We should however be thinking ahead as PCP returns are coming and they have the potential to change the look of the wholesale and retail used car landscape.
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