AA Cars says the demand could be down to "changes in commuting habits".

Demand for used cars has grown noticeably since the UK was plunged into lockdown, despite a reduction in demand for new vehicles. That’s according to data from used car website AA Cars, which claims interest in second-hand vehicles is currently 15 percent higher than it was at the same point in 2019.

The organisation analysed search data on its used car platform, revealing an uplift in interest in June, after the lockdown was lifted and forecourts reopened. At that time, the number of searches rose 9.1 percent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

But far from being an isolated spike, the figure has risen as the year has continued. In September, search levels were four percent higher than in June, with some areas seeing demand rise even more dramatically.

According to the figures, demand in Glasgow was up by more than 32 percent in September when compared with June. When AA Cars compared the demand seen in Scotland’s second city last month with the same point in 2019, it found an increase of 96.7 percent.

Crawley also saw an impressive rise in interest in used cars last month, with searches more than doubling compared with September 2019. Cardiff also saw searches rise, but ‘only’ by around 70 percent compared with the same time 12 months ago.

Used car market stronger than ever as August sales beat previous records

These figures come as the new car market continues to struggle, failing to return to pre-pandemic levels over the past few months. In September, the new car market was down by 4.4 percent compared with the same month in 2019.

However, figures from the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) appeared to back up AA Cars’ assertion that used car demand is growing. The organisation saw a two-percent rise in the number of used cars financed during August 2020 compared with the previous August.

Used cars

AA Cars claims it is “widely thought” government guidance for people to avoid public transport where possible has led more Brits to consider buying a car. Government data showed car use hit 92 percent of pre-pandemic levels in September, while use of National Rail only reached 40 percent of normal journeys.

“The sustained increase in demand since the summer is positive news for the used car market, which endured a big decline in sales during lockdown,” said James Fairclough, the CEO of AA Cars. “The used car market continues to offer an enormous amount of choice to drivers at all price points, and changes in commuting habits may be leading more people to purchase a car so they can avoid public transport.

Evening heavy traffic on busiest British motorway M25 in London

“The large range of affordable cars on the second-hand market means that drivers who need a new or replacement vehicle, but also have concerns about job security or the state of the economy, can easily find one to suit their budget. With many people worried about their finances, it is more important than ever that drivers take care when buying a used car.

“We recommend buying only from a reputable dealer, and having a car independently inspected to ensure there are no major problems which could prove costly down the line. A warranty can provide extra peace of mind to those worried about having to pay for expensive repairs if something does go wrong with their car.”

Vauxhall dealership forecourt London