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Parker's forecourt focus: Dealers struggling to find good stock

Car sales might still be rising, but it doesn’t mean dealers will be buying that second villa in Marbella. The September new registration isn’t as popular as the March one, which means less new cars sold, less part-exchanges and less used stock to make some extra cash on.

And they need those part-exchanges because there’s a shortage of clean three-year-old cars coming in from the big fleet. Fleets are hanging on to cars for longer to try and ride out a depressed market, so there’s a shortage of those three year-old cars at the moment, which has pushed up prices slightly on some models.

The latest research from Parker’s Price Guide shows used car prices on many popular models have either declined less than usual, or not-at-all in the last few weeks as dealers struggle to find good stock.

This has affected the amount of new car deals available. Take Fiat’s new Panda. It’s a great car, but three months ago some dealers were selling pre-registered, base model 1.1 Actives for £4,995 (£1,300 off list price). But demand has increased and you’ll be lucky to find one at less than £5,995. You can’t currently buy a used example with a few thousand miles showing for less than £5,000.

Which means customers either need to become hard-nosed hagglers or look at a broader choice of cars.

What they might end up buying are the increasingly-difficult-to-sell 12 to 24-month-old cars They haven’t fallen in value enough to look good against a discounted, pre-registered car, but aren’t yet old enough to fall into the pockets of a typical used car buyer.

These are the cars that customers are trying for a deal on. They might not get a load of cash off, but chances are they are able to hold out for a top part-exchange value if their old car is in decent condition. And a small discount combined with the best possible part-ex price (and some free mats, 12 months road tax and a tank of fuel) can add up to a great deal for them, although knocks profits for the dealer.

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