A welcome uplift in consumer interest was experienced by dealers in October with combined figures for online and showroom traffic the highest so far in 2010 – up by 8.4 to 45.4 enquiries – reports Manheim.
Although conversion rates of test drives to sales were down slightly month-on-month to 34.6%, the increased traffic improved sales performance, with overall sales up 2.6 to 15.7 units, a result not seen since the heady days of Q1 last year.
John Simpson, managing director, Manheim Retail Services, said: “As we look ahead to Christmas, and with the full effects of the spending review yet to hit, it is hard to see consumer interest remaining at this level to the end of the year.
"While the run-in to year-end can be a quieter time for new and used car retail showrooms, the onset of colder weather can bring upsides for aftersales departments and bodyshops.
“Dealers should be assessing whether workshop processes are as automated as they could be, in order to maximise workshop efficiency.”
In the wholesale market, average stock for retail values weakened in October, down £243 to £7,828, similar to levels achieved last October.
Average first-time conversion rates slipped slightly by 1%, to 87% – still very respectable for this time of year.
Part-exchange values rose for the third month in a row, by £53, taking values overall to £2,254.
This increase reflects the current stability of the market as stock mix remains relatively unchanged across all segments.
At 85%, average first-time conversion rates remain healthy.
Mike Pilkington, managing director, Manheim Remarketing, said: “All indications are that the next few months will follow traditional seasonal norms, with a slowdown in activity preceding a strong pick up in Q1.
"But for now, buyers are being selective with bidding, favouring clean vehicles in retail condition at realistic prices.”