Fleet News

Indian summer boost for autumn car sales

'JUST about everyone is in agreement that new car sales in September and October were much better than anyone could have imagined.

Every sector did well and even high mileage cars have somehow found homes. But tatty examples, regardless of type, once again suffered. Well-prepared cars, with all the documentation, have been the most sought-after – proof that spending a bit of time and money does pay off.

Even some of the rental companies have been adopting the same policy, and they too have seen their vehicles moving faster.

The trade does not like buying work, unless of course it is very cheap. Traders like to buy a car that is ready to retail, put it straight on the forecourt and move it on quickly as stock turnaround is vital.

The accountants always want to see the money back in the bank as soon as possible - not sitting outside a bodyshop for weeks.

So why has retail demand been so strong? There are many theories, depending on who you talk to, including cheap finance, lots of choice, better-prepared cars on the forecourts and newer cars for less money.

But let me put this theory to you. The weather, as I have said many times, can have so much influence on the good old public.

Looking at September 2002, according to the BBC weather centre, it was the sunniest September since 1991 with an average of 5.8 hours per day.

Temperatures were slightly up on the previous year and rainfall was well down, at 41 mm compared to 83mm in 2001 and 133mm in 2000. Although there was a temporary blip in the weather around September 7, which saw torrential rain, that was to account for most of that month's total.

This all adds up: a used car buyer likes to look at cars when it is dry, not hang around forecourts in the pouring rain, so there were plenty of chances to view in relative comfort and even with a bit of sunshine thrown in.

October also got off to an unusually good start, again creating perfect conditions for the used car buyer, so the shopping spree continued.

However, dealers have recently reported that used car sales have gone quiet and this is again attributed to the weather. It only takes a weekend of rain and the public will find other ways of spending their time.

Other people will of course have their own opinions about what makes people buy used cars, but this is my admittedly unscientific theory and I'm sticking to it. Just like the weather, used car buyers will always blow hot and cold.

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