##CAPsml--left####Martin Ward--right##AFTER weeks of doom and gloom, it does seem that things are at last picking up a bit.
Garages are reporting that public interest in buying a car is back to the level that it is normally for this time of year.
But there have been some lost weeks and the build-up of stock has been unprecedented in all areas of the market. The trade is still nervous and came to a standstill in the last week of October.
Talking to traders, they were simply waiting for the guides, and would not buy until they were sure what the hits would be. But as soon as they got the books in their possession the job started again and with an increased number of customers, confidence is slowly returning.
The downside to all of this is that cars are cheaper than they were a few weeks ago - but then aren't they always at this time of year? However the drops this time have been heavier than normal. Those suffering most are dealers with old stock at old money and leasing companies putting cars into a market with lower than expected bids.
Those that hold back for stronger prices could be in for a long wait, as the high prices that were being made not long ago are now a distant dream and unlikely to return.
New Year price rise division
MANY people in the industry are split on their view of the traditional rise in prices in the New Year. It has always happened: get Christmas out of the way and off it goes again, but nobody is putting bets on it for this coming January.
One of the reasons that the public is returning to look at - and in some cases buy - nearly new and used cars is the effort being put in at dealer level. There is plenty being spent on advertising in local newspapers, regional cars-for-sale magazines and on local radio.
This extra spend is typical of the motor trade when things get tough. Many don't shy away in a corner, but come out fighting and will not give up. They have seen it before and know what to do in exceptional circumstances.
There are other reasons apart from all the extra advertising - and one is pricing. The public knows good value when it sees it and regardless of what else is going on around them, or elsewhere in the world, they can't resist a bargain.
And that is what they are being offered right now. Yes, it is at the expense of somebody, but keeping things moving is sometimes better than everything coming to a grinding halt. It is unfortunate for some, but a pleasure for others. Another factor is the low interest rates being offered with dealer finance.
Many dealers are also reporting that while it is still hard work, and every deal has to be fought for, they are making little or no money. They too are shifting old stock, and at lower prices, to make way for new. Everyone is hoping for a period of stability and a return to the level of business expected in November and December.
Abundance of nearly-new stock
THERE are still plenty of nearly-new vehicles around and if anyone could count them, they would probably be amazed at the number of Y and 51 reg cars that were registered for tactical reasons and don't really have a home to go to.
On the other hand the number of vehicles being defleeted early from the rental market is smaller than expected, as business seems to have picked up quite a bit at airport locations.
This is good for disposal managers, although the ex-rental car is in a difficult sector of the market as it is in competition with those low or delivery mileage vehicles. But rental disposal managers are working hard to combat the competition and are doing deals to move cars, without necessarily distressing this end of the market.
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