Demand for second-hand cars surges as new car sales falter

Demand for used cars has climbed in the wake of lockdown even as new car sales have fallen, according to new data.

Used car specialist AA Cars has reported a 15 per cent year-on-year increase in interest in vehicles, with spikes in some regions more than doubling demand.

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The rise is partly being attributed to the effects of lockdown and government advice to avoid public transport whenever possible, with more people looking for affordable private transport instead.

Drivers’ interest in used cars spiked to 9.1 per cent above pre-pandemic levels when forecourts re-opened in June, but the new analysis shows that demand has continued to pick up since then. Searches on the AA Cars platform in September were on average four per cent higher than they were in June — with some areas, such as Glasgow, seeing demand rise by almost a third (32.2 per cent). Glasgow also saw a near doubling of demand compared with September 2019 (96 per cent increase) while Crawley saw interest more than double, up by 102 per cent.

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AA Cars analysed searches made on its platform in September for used vehicles in 48 major UK towns and cities and discovered an average year-on-year rise of 15 per cent.

During full lockdown, used car demand collapsed by almost 50 per cent alongside dramatic falls in new car sales. But while new car sales continue to struggle - down 4.4 per cent year on year - the AA figures suggest the used car market is recovering more quickly.

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James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars commented: “The sustained increase in demand since the summer is positive news for the used car market, which endured a big decline in sales during lockdown.

“The used car market continues to offer an enormous amount of choice to drivers at all price points, and changes in commuting habits may be leading more people to purchase a car so they can avoid public transport.

“The large range of affordable cars on the second-hand market means that drivers who need a new or replacement vehicle, but also have concerns about job security or the state of the economy, can easily find one to suit their budget.

“With many people worried about their finances, it is more important than ever that drivers take care when buying a used car.”

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