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Drop in consumer interest is worse than last year

Consumer interest continued to decline in November with sales falling a further 3.9 units to 8.8 units per month on average, according to Manheim’s Dealer Dashboard.

All segments saw a fall in both showroom and online enquiries, except for the mini MPV segment, which saw a slight rise in interest.

However, this extra interest failed to translate into better sales as conversions dropped to just 22.4%.

The overall decline continues the seasonal trend that was expected, but is slightly deeper than November last year.

“The drop is no surprise as consumers keep one eye fixed firmly on the rapidly approaching festive period and the other on the apparent deepening of the UK economic fragility which continues to impact on confidence,” said John Simpson, managing director at Manheim Retail Services.

In the wholesale market the seasonal downward drift in average stock for retail values continued as values fell 2% to £7,633 despite some younger stock being available across most segments.

The biggest winners were the large family segment, which is still making up for some ground it lost in August, and the small hatchback segment, which is proving popular given the affordable and economic nature of the vehicles.

Average dealer part-exchange values rose for the third month in a row, albeit by just £6 to £2,446. Overall values remain healthy.

The results come off the back of good performances from both the large family and small hatchback segments, which have predominantly seen younger, lower mileage vehicles coming into auction.

Generally, those segments showing an older stock mix have seen their values reduced, suggesting the market remains relatively stable.

“First time conversion rates sit at 76%, which remains good for the time of year, but we do continue to see buyers hunting vociferously for the best stock to satisfy consumer demand for the right car at the right price as they look to economise,” said Mike Pilkington, managing director at Manheim Remarketing.

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