The Gavel - February 2024
Wholesale market opinion from our resident car and LCV auction experts, Kevin Blincowe and Stuart Peak.
Kevin Blincowe - cars
The festive break seems a distant memory as we’re now truly in the thick of the new year. Thankfully, the car auction world has started much as we left it in 2023, that is to say it’s in a great place.
We’ve seen plenty of volume through the lanes across all sectors in January, with buyers very keen to see their peers in the hall and touch the metal. This is backed up by the fact that we have seen record post-Covid physical buyer attendance across many of our sites. Northampton, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds have all seen large numbers of buyers flocking to the lanes, making our auctions buzz with activity again.
Credit to our buyer services team and our action-packed sales programme, which have drawn in many old faces (and lots of new ones too!) – something the auctioneers and I absolutely thrive on.
In terms of units sold, we have seen excellent growth for January year-on-year. Obviously the first quarter of 2024 is a very important one in the motor trade and auctions are no different. I’m encouraged by the big start we’ve had so far and feel it will put us on the right foot to tackle the rest of the year, especially the tougher months.
Book price drops are still influencing things as they did throughout most of last year, but it has been good to see some stabilisation in the market and the small movement predicted for February’s book will give everyone some confidence.
There’s lots of hard work still to do, but we couldn’t have wished for a better start to the year and it’s fantastic to see hall attendances growing which supports the reasons we launched our hybrid auction programme in the first place. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for Manheim and our customers.
Stuart Peak - LCVs
In the blink of an eye January is over and it’s safe to say we have had a record-breaking start to 2024 – in more ways than one!
We’ve seen a 52% increase year-on-year on the number of LCVs arriving on site and the sale of LCVs through our lanes has also increased by 27%. Every single sale has been packed with stock, just as I predicted 2024 would go.
The market was on fire from the beginning of January, as buyers competed to secure good-quality used vans that they had been somewhat starved of at the end of 2023. This was particularly pleasing to see and the momentum didn’t let up much as the month continued.
Another record is the number of buyers who have purchased an LCV from us in January. We saw 95 more buyers purchase last month than in any last year, and more than 3,000 dealers interacted with at least one our LCV sales.
One thing to be conscious of is preparation time, and with such a large volume of vans sold in such a short space of time, buyers need time to get their newly purchased vans collected, ready for retail and advertised. Many of our buyers have indicated that retail activity has been steady so far this year and I predict that this will continue to increase throughout February and beyond.
Much of the volume we’re seeing can be explained by how well the new market is performing. With nearly 30,000 new LCVs registered in
December, this unquestionably explains why we have seen record arrivals in January. The good news is that I only expect this trend to continue as January also saw a healthy 8.4% year-on-year increase with a little under 24,000 LCVs registered – the strongest January for three years.
Looking ahead, another factor to be aware of is that Easter falls at the end of March and we often see a lull around the Easter period. Scary to think but that is only seven weeks away!
With that in mind, I can say with full confidence that our vendors are fully aligned to market conditions and are keen to sell. Guide values are also reacting quickly to market conditions as more stock enters the market. Overall, guide values decreased 1.5% on average into February and this paints a clear picture of a strong market. We saw some notable guide movements in 2023 as the market went through a degree of alignment, but I feel that the worst is over and we can expect more stability in the coming months.
Overall, a fantastic start to the year with all signs pointing towards another good month to come. The best way I can put it is that the market feels like “the good old days” – frantic, but with a great buzz!