Nearly a third of new car buyers have swapped for the used market

This is the latest report in a series of weekly updates for industry colleagues from Rachael Prasher, managing director of What Car? and Haymarket Automotive. Quoted poll data is from more than 1100 whatcar.com users.

Two weeks ago, we highlighted the growing impact that the continuing microchip shortage has had on the UK’s new and used car market. Our research found that 35% of new car buyers were prepared to turn to the used market due to a lack of new car availability, placing further pressure on used vehicle prices and stock numbers.

This week, we focused on in-market used car buyers, surveying 1,149 to find out more about their experiences in the market. More than half (51%) expect to purchase a car within 4 weeks, and 75% within the next three months.

In comparison, 28% of the 998 new car buyers interviewed were looking at buying within the next four weeks, with another 28% looking to purchase within the next three months.

What Car?’s research also found that new car buyers have already begun to make the switch to the used market; 29% of used buyers stated that they were originally in the market to buy a new car but have now decided on a used model instead.

Cost saving was the biggest reason for the change. 82% of those making the switch from the new market to the used market are doing so to save money, while 17% turned to the used market because new car delivery times were too long.

However, stock availability is now a concern for used car buyers as well; in the research, 62% stated that they are finding it hard to find the right used car. Rising used car prices were also highlighted by the research, with 34% of buyers stating that they’ve noticed an increase in used vehicle prices.

Consumer demand is clearly strong in the industry, following months of lockdown. The challenge is now whether supply can meet it.