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Unpredictability is this summer's buzzword

The market has been unpredictable over the summer. No sooner were dealers and traders reporting a deathly quiet time then along would come a sale where buyers were falling over themselves competing for stock. This continued through August as the market prepared for the September bonanza and the huge influx of part-exchanges due then.

That may be when we see used values begin to struggle more because, so far, it has been relatively low supply levels that have kept used values afloat.

Trade and retail activity climbed a little during August. Some dealers even reported they had exceeded their used car sales targets for the month. Aside from the comfortable levels of stock in the marketplace, we also detected the release of some pent-up retail demand built up when Royal and sporting events brought an early holiday feeling.

The unpredictability of this year, however, belies the fact that new patterns are emerging now the bi-annual plate change is well established. For example, December used to be the quietest month as dealers ran stock levels down in anticipation of a glut of part exchanges in January. In contrast, this is now a busy month.

The old influx of three-year-old August cars is, of course, history and this fact has also been significant in preventing any meltdown in values. Demand has even grown for nearly new cars in the volume sector, where Ka, Saxo and Clio have all benefited. In the executive sector, there's a gradual build-up of interest. Parts are affected by availability on contract hire. Because the majority of users can only just squeeze into an entry model, there are a lot of low-spec examples around.

However, sports cars are demonstrating resilience with strong demand for new and used. Although their well-established sensitivity to colour and spec remains a serious issue, there is no shortage of interest for something a bit different.

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