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‘Business as usual’ at used car auctions, reports NAMA

Louise Wallis, head of NAMA

Members of the National Association of Motor Auctions (NAMA) have told the organisation that it remains “business as usual” at their remarketing centres, despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Despite the four-week lockdown in England and the additional restrictions across the country, NAMA said that a recent meeting of auctioneers had received feedback that COVID-safe procedures developed during H1 were continuing to serve the sector well.

Head of NAMA, Louise Wallis, said: “Following the first lockdown, businesses are now more familiar with running auctions under COVID-safe procedures.

“Positively, it is business as usual for most auctions thanks to auctioneers’ ability to adapt, focus on online sales and carry on doing business in a safe and compliant way.

“Online auctions have been performing extremely well and we are pleased to see that the NAMA Grading Scheme continues to support sales.

“The scheme allows buyers to identify quickly the vehicle that they want, and it provides them with additional information via the detailed report available to them.

 “Following a particularly strong year, the market remains ahead of 2019’s levels despite all the challenges and it would be normal to experience a slight realignment over the coming weeks.”

While the balance of supply and demand continued to maintain vehicle price growth in recent weeks – as reported by Cap HPI, Auto Trader and Indicata – remarketing providers have continued their efforts to maintain a flow of product into the market via online sales.

Signs that providers have continued to drive their own growth plans have been illustrated by G3 Remarketing’s unveiling of its new 14-acre ‘vehicle marketplace’ in Yorkshire back in August and BCA’s recent announcement of plans to create a new 65-acre ‘mega centre’ in Bristol.

According to Cap HPI, volumes of sold wholesale data have been relatively consistent before and after ‘Lockdown 2’ began earlier this month, although these were not at the peaks they were at in September.

Trade buyers are still buying, although not to the same degree as in previous months, it said, while retailers’ enquiry levels and ‘click & collect’ sales have made continued trade worthwhile.

Earlier this month Vertu Motors chief executive, Robert Forrester, took to Twitter to celebrate the sales of over 340 retail cars over phone, video and online on November 14 alone.

Derren Martin, head of valuations UK for Cap HPI, has said that continued retail demand is currently maintaining used car values.

He said: “From our perspective, retail values are holding quite firm, whereas trade prices continue to drop in November.

“Cap Live values have been dropping steadily since late September, but we have not seen a huge acceleration in this over the last two weeks.

“It is important to remember that on average, used values are over 5% higher than they were a year ago, for a like-for-like car at the same age and mileage point.

“This is very unusual and with the fourth quarter of the year generally being a period when there is more pressure on prices, plus some reduction in the buoyant demand factors of the summer 2020, it is unsurprising that values are dropping.

“We expect values to continue to drop for a few weeks, although they may stabilise depending on when lockdown ends and the proximity to Christmas.”

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