Used car sales halve due to UK lockdown

UK used car sales fell 48.9 percent in the quarter from April to June as lockdown sees car dealers shut and travel restricted

Mercedes-Benz used car sales

Just over 1 million used cars were sold in the quarter from April to June 2020 – 48.9 percent fewer than in 2019 and entirely due to coronavirus lockdown, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

It actually marked a 2020 turnaround, as January and February used car sales were thriving pre-pandemic.

However, SMMT figures reveal the sales slump was already easing by June: while transactions were down 74.2 percent in April, they only fell 17.5 percent in June.

So far in 2020, 2.89 million used cars have been sold, compared to 4.05 million in 2019. That’s a decline of 28.7 percent – with 85 percent of the losses recorded in the April to June period.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “As devastating as these figures are, with full lockdown measures in place for the whole of April and May, they are not surprising.

“As the UK starts to get back on the move again and dealerships continue to re-open, we expect to see more activity return to the market, particularly as many people see cars as a safe and reliable way to travel during the pandemic.”

The most popular type of used car during the 2020 lockdown period was a supermini, with 316k transactions – they took 30.5 percent of the market, despite sales falling 52.4 percent.

Unsurprisingly, every car sector declined: the least badly affected were luxury saloons, down ‘just’ 30.4 percent.

The most popular used car colour was black, closely followed by silver, blue, grey and white.

Best selling used cars: April-June 2020

1: Ford Fiesta

2: Volkswagen Golf

3: Ford Focus

4: Vauxhall Corsa

5: Vauxhall Astra

6: BMW 3 Series

7: Mini

8: Volkswagen Polo

9: Audi A3

10: Mercedes-Benz C-Class


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Richard Aucock
Richard is director at Motoring Research. He has been with us since 2001, and has been a motoring journalist even longer. He won the IMCO Motoring Writer of the Future Award in 1996 and the acclaimed Sir William Lyons Award in 1998. Both awards are run by the Guild of Motoring Writers and Richard is currently chairman of the world's largest organisation for automotive media professionals. Richard is also a juror for World Car Awards and the UK juror for the AUTOBEST awards.


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