Cautious buyers in online used car market

Cautious buyers in online used car market

Posted 21 January, 2021 at 09:30

Author Mark Bradshaw on behalf of (IFM) Independent Forecourt Magazine

January snow boosts interest in used 4x4s - but buyers rein back on spending after 2020's highs 


WINTRY CONDITIONS in parts of Britain may have boosted used 4x4 sales in January, according to the latest market analysis by the online car supermarket 

But, in a sign of post-Christmas financial caution, car buyers are reining in their spending slightly, compared to the record prices recorded by for much of last year. 

The Mercedes GLA has shot to top position for sales so far in 2021, with the 4Matic all-wheel drive variants dominating motorists' choices. 

A year ago the GLA was outside the top 20 most popular cars on 

Other insights for the first half of the month include: 

  • White returning to the number 1 position for colour choice 
  • Demand for diesel cars almost unchanged, at just below a third of all sales 
  • Average prices paid for cars falling slightly 
  • Average mileages up by 8% to 27,506 
  • Slightly lower proportion of purchases made by women 

In January so far almost one in three searches for used cars has been for 4x4 cars while searches in general are dominated by Mercedes, accounting for 15% of all enquiries. Analysts believe this accounts for the explosion of interest in the GLA, as Mercedes fans increasingly look for an all-wheel drive option from their favourite car brand. 

Interest in electric vehicles - EVs - appears to have slipped back for the moment from their peak in last year's final quarter, when they reached as high as 15% of all sales, while women also seem to be taking a break from car-buying. At one point last year exactly 50% of customers were women but that figure has moved to 39% during January so far. 

Prices of cars chosen by customers on have also fallen back to their lowest since October 2020 but remain 4.4% higher than in January last year. So far this year the average price paid for a car ordered for home delivery is £13,487, while the average mileage has increased by 8%. 

Christofer Lloyd, Editor of, said: "January has heralded a more cautious market, with car buyers evidently more concerned with recent wintry conditions and doubtless feeling a little more budget-conscious after the Christmas period. 

"This probably accounts for the choices motorists are making, to spend a little less on average than we were seeing toward the end of last year and focus more on the cars that they perceive as best suited to the wintry, wet conditions of the next couple of months. 

"As we have reported many times before, analysis of buyer behaviour also suggests that women tend to be more practical than men in their approach to car-buying. This may account for slightly fewer purchases by women at the moment, at a time when the typical household is taking stock of finances after the additional costs of the festive season. 

"With EVs still just outside the mainstream for the typical used car buyer, a focus on practicality during the winter months may account for them slipping back for the moment to a more familiar small slice of the market. However, based on the experience of last year, we continue to be confident that EVs will make further strides toward mainstream acceptance this year." 

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