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Results bring new optimism

Used car dealers are predicting an upsurge in performance after many enjoyed a better than expected 2000, according to the Cap used car confidence index.

A strong December boosted overall used car sales to 2.4% above 1999, from a 0.6% deficit in November. Analysts believe the chaos surrounding the railways was the driving force behind the sudden increase in sales.

In terms of dealer optimism, the Cap index returned a 'confidence factor' of 63 in December, which means a high proportion expect an upturn in buyer demand to kick-start 2001 sales.

Regional variations in performance continue to affect parts of the UK, with six out of the nine regions improving sales last year. Anglia topped the table with sales up 16.3% on 1999, but London and the South-east suffered most from the uncertainty about car prices and pressure from parallel importers, ending the year down 5.5% on 1999.

The new car pricing issue has filtered through to used cars with 58% of dealers reporting it was the key factor when encouraging customers to make a purchase.

Monetary issues also affected other areas of business. Seventeen per cent of dealers believed finance packages were vital in attracting buyers, while 8% pushed insurance deals. A further 13% thought the deciding factor was a car's fuel economy and running costs.

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