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CAP Tradewatch: July 10

The car marketplace continues to defy the recession to some extent with no sign so far of a return to the slump of 2008. 

Research for the latest edition of Black Book surprised even the team, with very little change despite a slight weakening of retail activity.

Key, yet again, is the ongoing shortage of stock in the trade market, which means supply is not overtaking demand. The longer the current climate goes on the clearer it becomes that as far as used car values is concerned a severely weakened new car market is good for stability.

And stability in values matters to dealers, especially when margins remain tight.

But although there are no shocks in any sector in terms of trade prices for June there are mixed messages about the state of the market coming from different corners.

For example, auction conversion rates are still showing a decline which suggests that the market has cooled. From nearly 100% in some cases, a few months ago, we are now seeing an average rate of 82.8%.

In the case of trade values there was significant debate as to whether CAP was calling the market correctly. With the average percentage of CAP Clean achieved at ex-lease auctions having fallen over the last month from 101.5% to 100.3% it now seems the correct view was taken.

As CAP predicted, the scrappage scheme already shows signs of diverting demand away from smaller nearly-new cars which are now showing some signs of weakness and dealers will no doubt be exercising some caution in this area. Dealers are also reporting further reductions in retail sales and showroom traffic - although footfall is stronger for franchise dealers as customers investigate their scrappage options.

It is a measure of the general shortage of stock that despite reducing retail activity there is still significant stock purchase activity as dealers continue to struggle to find cars ideal for retail.

But many have little option as the lack of part-exchanges is really making its mark on the forecourt.

At present, trade values do not seem to be conforming to seasonal norms and are instead remaining stronger than historical precedence would suggest.

And, of course, the mirror-image reversal of last year’s “small = good / big = bad” is still leading to the strongest performance of large executive models and 4x4s.


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