Lane watch: Deep-pocket dealers dominate bidding & buying


While the acceleration of wholesale prices moving higher dipped a bit, Black Book indicated dealerships with the most robust financial resources continue to have the best opportunity to secure used-vehicle inventory during the coronavirus pandemic.

Black Book specifically mentioned large operations such as CarMax and Carvana showing their “dominance in the lanes” as analysts released their latest COVID-19 Market Insights report earlier this week.

“The increase in pricing related to winning bids is forcing smaller buyers to step back from bidding for fear of getting stuck with high-priced inventory,” Black Book said in the report.

“The divide continues to grow between the smaller dealers and the larger outfits as the money required to purchase inventory increases and retail fails to increase at the same pace,” analysts continued. “The larger dealers are relying on financing and add-on services as a revenue stream to overcome the small retail margins, but this is hurting the smaller dealers that do not have these services to offer.”

No matter who is cutting the floorplan checks, the amount needed to get those vehicles is declining at least a little bit.

Based on its volume-weighted data, Black Book reported that overall car segment values increased 0.96% this past week, representing the smallest amount of upward movement in the past seven weeks when prices first started a rapid week-over-week run of increases.

Analysts pointed out the latest movement is in sharp contrast to the same week last year when overall car segments values decreased 0.27%.

When volume-weighting is applied, Black Book determined overall truck segment values (including pickups, SUVs and vans) increased by 1.04% last week, marking the first time during the rebounding of values that the increases in the truck space exceeded the car arena.

“Last week, the minivan and full-size van segments had small declines that were viewed as stability, but the stability didn’t last long with all segments once again increasing this past week,” analysts said. “However, it is notable that many were at a smaller pace than previous weeks.”

Turning back to the atmosphere in the lanes nowadays, Black Book mentioned another trend that might be making it more challenging for dealerships with less financial horsepower to secure inventory they want.

“The portion of the market that is showing some stabilization and a slight softening are the ‘edgier’ units — those with higher mileage and lower condition scores,” analysts said.

“At the onset of the pandemic, the lower price point of these vehicles made them desirable, but this is a portion of the market that is showing some stability now,” they continued.

“The demand has shifted now toward newer-model-year, lower-mileage, and clean condition units that provide a viable substitution for consumers that are in the market for a new vehicle,” Black Book went on to say.

Black Book wrapped up its latest observations with two other anecdotes.

“Last week values continued to rise, but we did experience a small increase in no-sales as sellers continue to raise their floors and buyers show some hesitancy around what the future holds for used cars,” analysts said.

“Auction volume is showing some regionality in trends with volume increasing, particularly of rental units, in portions of the country that have been harder hit by spikes in COVID-19 cases,” they continued.

“Additionally, in the past two weeks, we’ve seen pockets of damaged units being sold in various parts of the country with sellers taking advantage of the strong market for late-model vehicles,” Black Book concluded.

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