For the first time in 2009 month-on-month consumer demand has weakened, according to Manheim.
April figures show a decline in showroom and online enquiries as well as sales, which were down from 17.8 in March to 13.4 in April. It must be remembered though that, with Easter falling in the middle of the month, this can have the effect of weakening trading opportunities.
But generally there is a feeling that trading levels are falling back slightly in Q2 compared with the extraordinarily busy Q1 period. Sales were down across each of the vehicle sectors although mini-MPVs were down only very marginally.
After a very strong showing in Q1, small hatchbacks actually slipped back most, from an average of 7.1 in March to 5.6 in April.
John Simpson, managing director of Manheim Retail Services, said: “It remains to be seen whether the Government’s attempts to kick-start the new car market through the
scrappage s cheme will deliver incremental demand but, despite much negative comment, at least the debate continues to keep the profile of car sales – new or used – high on the consumer media agenda.
Mike Pilkington, managing director of Manheim Auctions & Remarketing, said: “After such a strong start, it was inevitable that prices would stabilise, although generally demand remains strong and indeed stock for retail increased by a further £61 in April compared with March.
The expectation at this time of year is for prices to actually fall back in early summer and stock for retail first time conversion rates in the auction halls have slipped a little, but are still extremely respectable at 88%.
Within each vehicle segment prices fell back with the exception of compact execs and small hatchbacks. Average part-exchange disposal prices also dropped back slightly in April, but by only £9 and, like stock for retail, auction hall first time conversion rates remain strong at 86%.
As the current auction environment continues to be highly efficient, there is still time for dealers who act quickly, to take advantage before the market turns, he said.