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CAP trade watch: Sales and petrol costs

The used car retail market continues to perform generally in line with last year.

The latest CAP Used Car Performance Index reveals one potentially significant departure, however, in the shape of retail sales during the summer months. During 2004, the market rose between May and June before falling slightly through July and August.

Looking at this year’s performance, there has been no slowing in retail sales between May and September, but instead a steady rise. It is important to note that the CAP Used Car Performance Index does not measure actual sales volumes but changes in retail sales performance.

Each month a geographically weighted sample of independent used car retail dealers is asked whether their sales for the previous month were up, down or in line with the month before.

The ongoing rise in fuel prices is clearly impacting on the attitudes of used car retail customers.

This is revealed by comparing the latest survey on the importance of fuel economy with one carried out a year ago.

In September 2004 we asked our dealer sample how important fuel economy is in the decision-making process of retail used car buyers. Back then, 44% said “Very”, 47% said “Quite” and 9% said ‘Unimportant’.

In the survey conducted this September, the proportion describing fuel economy as very important rose to 55%. Just 30% said it was quite important, with 15% now classing it unimportant.

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