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CAP trade watch

Research by CAP indicates that market performance is not uniform and that dealers in some areas are having a better or worse time than elsewhere.

For example, dealers in Northern Ireland seem to be suffering the toughest trading period of all.

When asked whether the recent trading period was more difficult than the same time last year, the overall national response saw 73% of dealers saying it was.

However, when broken down by region this figure climbs to 90% in Northern Ireland, where no dealers at all reported an improvement.

Compare this with Scotland, where the figure is 62%, or the south east, where it is 60%, and regional variations in used car sales performance become evident.

Another interesting regional variation comes with the question of fuel economy and customer buying habits.

Dealers were asked whether their customers are moving towards smaller engine cars, in view of CO2-based taxation and rising fuel costs.

While the national figure is 69% of dealers reporting a definite move toward smaller engines, in the north west it climbs to 100%.

This contrasts with the south east and Scotland where just half of the dealers said they were detecting the trend.

But just one in three dealers in the north of England said increasing running costs were pushing customers toward smaller engines.

On the question of whether customers are seeking a different age of car than they were a year ago there are also interesting regional variations.

Nationally 37% of dealers say their customers are now choosing slightly older cars.

But in the south east it is just 20%, suggesting that their customers are perhaps feeling the economic pinch less than most.

The region which saw the highest increased customer interest in older cars is the south west, where 60% of dealers report the trend.

They are closely followed by dealers in Wales where 50% say customers are choosing slightly older cars today.

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