Changing model mix was largely responsible for the increase as sold volumes fell by around 25% over the month - with volumes of lower value part-exchange vans falling further than the numbers of fleet & lease vans sold. Nearly-new volumes actually increased, but remain very marginal in the bigger picture.
Demand remained fairly slow both in the wholesale and retail marketplaces, although the lack of stock and short trading period in the run up to Christmas meant buyers still had to compete strongly for the best examples. Online selling channels grew in importance as buyers struggled to attend sales and BCA saw internet sales volumes via Live Online, Bid Now and Buy Now increase sharply.
Despite average values climbing by just £37 (0.9%) to £4,067 in December, values actually fell in the three main sub-sectors (fleet/lease, part-exchange and nearly-new), while overall performance against CAP declined by nearly a point.
Fleet values fell by £137 (2.9%) from £4,602 to £4,465 with nearly a full point coming off the CAP comparison, which sat at 96.1%. It was the lowest monthly average value recorded in the fleet & lease sector in 2010, and the lowest figure on record since November 2009. Year-on-year figures were behind by £119, equivalent to
-2.5% - the first time year-on-year figures have been behind since June 2009. However compared to two years ago, figures are ahead by £1,453 or 48%.
While December volumes from fleet & lease sources were disrupted, issues over the condition and variety of vehicles reaching the remarketing sector remained. Many vehicles came to the market well ahead of their planned de-fleet dates due to business failures, were often not in the best condition and were of similar make, model and specification.
Duncan Ward BCA’s general manager – Commercial Vehicles commented, “Market conditions were tough at the end of the year, with a combination of poor stock mix and inclement weather resulting in some price pressure across the board.”
“Happily the snow and attendant travel chaos has abated since the earliest days of January and buyers have been very active in the early days of the year. January generally brings an uplift in activity, and this is typically sustained until the Easter period – which usually represents a watershed in demand. However, the late Winter and early Spring months could see some significant increases in available volumes, which means average values could come under pressure again.”
Ward added “The economy is best described as fragile and we will be seeing the early effects of the VAT increase alongside continuing rising fuel costs, which means most small businesses will have a little less flexibility in their budgets than last year. Anyone looking to the SME sector to generate any major peaks in used van demand in the short term is likely to be disappointed – particularly as volumes are likely to increase over the coming month.”