He said: 'Some prices are still defying guide prices and there are lots of bodies in the auction halls, but there is not quite the same 'zip' in the market, event though it is very steady.
'There are probably two or three answers or excuses for that. December 2003 was again a very steady month for both buyers and vendors and the market remained steady right up until Christmas, hence the major players and the general trade were stocking up for the Christmas/new year period and for new stock going into January 2004.'
Shepherd said another factor was that there was much more stock about than in previous Januarys, giving buyers more selection from which to cherry-pick.
He added: 'The third reason is that the retail business during Christmas/new year and at present has not been as vibrant as hoped and that has had a knock-on effect on the used market.
'Having said that, the market is still very steady and I am optimistic for the next two months.'
Shepherd said there seemed no reason why the market would not improve over the coming weeks.
He added: 'Conversion rates are averaging out at about 80% to 85%, with general CAP figures holding up at about 100%. Manufacturer sales have started the year fairly strongly and again conversion rates are in the 90s.'