Where have all the prvivate buyers gone?

The car auctions these days are starting to resemble once more the dark depressing venues they became at this time last year. Not only have the nights drawn in and the skies turned greyer but the mood among buyers has taken a distinct turn for the worse.

Conversion rates are at the lowest they have been all year and, where once there was a mad bacon roll eating throng of auction novices, there is now such a deficit of private buyers on parade that many trade representatives are struggling to sell the same stock that only very recently was making absolute top dollar.

There seems to be reluctance on the part of sales managers to adapt to a market which has changed so rapidly in a few short weeks. The fact that the trade guides are ‘all over the place’ means that whereas at most points this year they could have entered a car with no engine or wheels and got a decent bid on it, buyers are now being very selective in what they bid on, not only in condition, mileage spec and model but also and most importantly on price.

Dealers and other volume vendors need to catch up fast or face the real possibility of turning those great trade profits into rapid reverses.

The accepted opinion is that this situation is however, only temporary and those of us who have been doing this a while are still anticipating this blip being followed by the usual rapid upturn in January.

The one caveat to this is that with prices having reached an all time high this year, the usual sharp rise in prices witnessed at the start of the year will not be anywhere near as steep at the start of 2010.

That is unless there is a greater than expected demand and new car sales really do become adversely affected by the changing market conditions caused by the VAT increase and showroom taxation.

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