Used car retail trends for 2014

The market for used cars has struggled in recent years amid economic troubles
The market for used cars has struggled in recent years amid economic troubles

While the economy is certainly showing strong signs of recovery, used car dealers and car supermarkets should not rest on their laurels quite just yet. For while the recovery is certainly a reality, the equally real concerns about making sure supply meets demand must be addressed.

Tough financial times have meant that a lot of people have not been changing their cars quite so often, choosing to run current vehicles ‘into the ground’ rather than try to exchange them while they still hold their value. So the number of used cars fit for resale has declined in recent months.

In the meantime, new car registrations have not declined, so people with newly lined pockets will be drawn to buying new, where there will not only still be decent offers available, but plenty of choice.

The market for used cars has struggled in recent years amid economic troubles
The market for used cars has struggled in recent years amid economic troubles

Yet it is not all bad news for used car supermarkets and their ilk. Modest price increases in the wholesale market have started to be reported in recent weeks. Harsher weather predicted for the next few months will also prompt some people to switch to a sturdier vehicle, such as 4X4s to assist them in snow, ice and other hostile driving conditions.

The rise and rise of social media will continue into 2014 too, making it easier for dealers and car supermarkets to promote their wares, from Facebook pages, offers and deals to participation in LinkedIn discussion groups and a presence on Google+.

People’s shifts in behavior patterns related to social media has also meant that they are willing to travel further to find and purchase the right car for them. Bank in November UK’s leading car supermarket, CarWorld reported seeing a rise in the numbers of customers travelling 45 miles or more to inspect stock and take vehicles on test drives.

A CarWorld spokesmen said of the phenomenon: “The internet has made searching for cars much easier, no longer limiting customers to local dealerships or advertising media.”

Looking online is a very popular option. People can see a picture of the car they want and read about its condition, history and performance from the comfort of their own homes. Armed with so much information, they’re far more willing to commit to longer journeys to make the purchase.

Another trend to watch for is the continuing love affair with all things vintage. As people hark back nostalgically to times past, they also remain keenly aware of the need to reuse and recycle and to live in as ecological a way as possible.

Of course, buying vintage is not always possible, or indeed advisable, but where a second hand car is declared safe, efficient, reliable and roadworthy, it will be a popular option for people seeking a new (to them) car in 2014 without wanting to opt for a completely brand new vehicle.

So, 2014 will not be without its challenges, not least in terms of supply and demand.

However, used car dealers and car supermarkets savvy enough to make the most of marketing opportunities, especially those available online, should see their sales figures rise as people remain committed to the age old adage of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’


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