Average used car prices increased by 7% year-on-year in March, reaching a value of £14,110, according to the latest figures from Auto Trader’s Retail Price Index.

Based on pricing analysis of 900,000 vehicles, the index also revealed an acceleration of price growth from February, which saw a 6.6% increase in average used car price.

The twelfth consecutive month of price growth, Auto Trader saw 69.7m cross-platform visits to its marketplace in March, the highest ever recorded. This figure surpasses the previous record, set in August 2020 of 67.1m visits, and represents a 27% increase when compared with March 2019.

Auto Trader also registered a record length of time spent by consumers on its marketplace, totalling 10.9m hours across March.

Attributed to record levels of consumer demand, this flurry of activity has resulted in a 91% increase in leads sent to retailers, when compared with 2019.

Richard Walker, Auto Traders director of data and insight, said: “The record demand we’re seeing on our marketplace offers a very positive indication as to what we can expect when in less than a week, retailers across England and Wales will be able to fully reopen their forecourts.”

Increasing success across the market is also reflective in shifts in consumer behaviour, as individuals have become more accustomed to purchasing vehicles online with the closure of showrooms due to the pandemic.

Walker continued: “Coupled with the fact that used car sales are close to what we would typically see in March, and new car performance has been robust despite the current restrictions, we’re confident of a fast return to health. And, with such strong demand in the market, we anticipate prices will remain buoyant for some time to come, which will continue to benefit retailers’ profit margins.”

EV versus ICE

Demand for used petrol and diesel vehicles saw year-on-year growth of 35% and 32.9% respectively, outperforming supply increases, which grew merely 0.4% for petrol vehicles and fell by 14.2% for diesel models.

Consequently, March saw the average price of used petrol vehicles increased by 5.8% year-on-year, and 8.9% for diesel vehicles.

Demand for EVs grew from 18.5% year-on-year in February, to 131.6% in March, also outstripping supply which grew at 117.8%. This pushed prices up by 9.3% year-on-year.

Pricing behaviours

Highlighting the markets stability, Auto Trader said last month’s pricing strategies are consistent with those of a typical March, based on the number of retailers making price changes and the value of their adjustments.

An average of 2,519 retailers made price changes last month, representing a 1% growth in March 2019, whilst the average daily price reduction of £239 was only £64 less than the same period.

Around 15,941 price changes were made each day, an increase from the 14,469 recorded in March 2019. This additional activity is to be expected due to higher volumes of total stock currently on Auto Trader.