In its Dealer Sentiment Index for the second quarter, released Monday, Cox Automotive found that franchised dealers continue to be happy with their used-car sales, and they feel better about used than they do about new-car sales.
Meanwhile, independent dealers are feeling a bit of an inventory pinch, which has diminished some of their positive sentiment on used-car sales.
The overall sentiment index for used-car sales (franchised and independent dealers combined) was 55 (out of 100) in the second quarter, relatively steady with the reading of 56 in the first quarter, according to the report.
The sentiment index for used cars among franchised dealers registered a 72, up from 69 in Q1. Not only does this suggest that used sales continue to be a “bright spot,” for franchised dealers, but it also shows these stores are “more positive on used-vehicle sales in Q2 than they were in Q1 and more positive on used than new,” Cox Automotive said.
The index on pre-owned sentiment for independents dropped from 52 to 50, though, with inventory constraints probably driving some of that.
“In Q2, the used-vehicle inventory sentiment for independents dropped to 45, down from 58 in Q1. Likewise, ‘Limited Inventory’ moved up to number two from number four last quarter as a top factor holding back business for independents,” Cox Automotive said.
The company cited an anonymous independent dealer in the survey saying: “(The market) is weak for dealers like me that sell late-model, low-mileage pre-owned vehicles because the new dealers in my area have substantially increased their used-vehicle inventory. They are better equipped to obtain financing for their customers than I am.”
Used-car sales slow some, remain strong in early 2018
There were considerably fewer used-car registrations in the first quarter than in the same period of either 2017 or 2016, according to data from Experian Automotive, but the retail market for pre-owned vehicles still appeared to be robust in the opening months of 2018.
In the May 2018 Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index released earlier this month, Cox Automotive estimated that there was a 1-percent year-over-year dip in retail used-car sales for May; however, it pinpointed the annualized rate to be 1 percent stronger.
Cox calculated the used-car SAAR at approximately 39.7 million for the month — the same as April — which was the strongest rate to date in 2018.
In an Industry Update that was released May 21, Cox Automotive said April had approximately 2-percent fewer used-car sales than the same month a year earlier.
But that was due largely to last month having two fewer selling days than April 2017, the report stated.
In the first four months of 2018, year-to-date certified pre-owned car sales had climbed 2 percent, even though there was a 5.7-percent year-over-year decline in April’s sales, according to Cox Automotive. And, again, the 39.7 million SAAR in April — a rate that repeated in May — was the year’s strongest.
Meanwhile, Edmunds released a forecast in late May calling for 3.4 million used-car sales that month, which would have been down from 3.5 million in April. However, the pre-owned SAAR for the month (39.3 million) was likely to pace ahead of April’s (39.2 million), according to Edmunds.
According to the Experian Automotive Quarterly Briefing outlining market-share and vehicle registration trends from Q1, there were 10.7 million used-car registrations during the opening quarter of 2018.
That’s down from 11.4 million in Q1 2017 and 11.1 million in Q1 2016.
But it beats the 10.5 million in the first quarter of 2015 and the 10.2 million in the same period of 2014.