Figures released by the National Caravan Council (NCC) show the volume of motorcaravans registered between January and October 2018 were up 3.5% compared to last year, at 13,236. The October moving annual total (M-A-T) showed a 4.4% increase, with 14,515 units registered. The statistics signify that during the first ten months of 2018, the market grew and experienced a positive season. However, feedback throughout the year from manufacturers and dealers tells a different story.
New market activity
Many industry observers suggest the sales output from the October Caravan and Motorcaravan show at Birmingham’s NEC sets the tone for how the market will play out for the rest of the selling season. If that is the case, much like last year, the market should prepare for another trying period. The majority of feedback that the Glass’s editorial team received during and after the show was negative. It certainly felt quieter in those large halls, and for the first time in recent years, the NEC revealed that there was a 5.4% decrease in attendance.
Whilst it is still early in the new selling season, dealers have reported that brand new 2019 motorcaravans are a tough sell. Mainly, it seems due to the difficulties the market suffered in 2018. After a successful 2017 season, where many dealers were short of stock, confidence was understandably high. Ultimately, dealers ordered too much stock, which made selling an arduous task. Plenty of 2018 model year stock remains unsold, clogging up dealer forecourts and currently advertised with large discounts.
This has resulted in dealers ordering less 2019 model year stock, as much as 50% less, hampering manufacturers’ production planning. Like a domino effect, dealers are facing another fight to entice consumers to purchase 2019 stock when similar 2018 models sit on the same forecourt, being advertised for much less.
Of course, not everyone is feeling the strain. There were reports of manufacturers and dealers having a very successful NEC show. Correct pricing structures have become essential over the past year, and those who have created products that sit well among competitors, and offer the layouts and specification demanded by customers have flourished.
Momentum in the used market continues to grow. The majority of dealers that Glass’s spoke to report having a reasonable year. Demand for the market has definitely been growing in recent times, through increasing numbers of first time motorcaravan buyers, and consumers enticed away from the new market due to price. Judging by the obstacles the new market is facing again, there certainly seems scope for the used market to grow further in 2019.
However, used dealers have flagged some hurdles they may have to jump in order for this to happen. Sourcing stock remains the greatest hardship, as dealers scour the whole of the UK to acquire units with promise. The pool of stock available has always been small. That pool is becoming ever smaller with dealer competition for stock increasing and more car, commercial vehicle and touring caravan dealers wanting in on the motorcaravan action. Regional values are also becoming more prominent, with some dealers speculating an average of £4k difference between vehicles advertised in the north and south.
Dealers who sell both new and used units report too much stock with unsold new units and not having the space or in some cases funding, to acquire good used stock. Prices continue rising as the trend of demand outstripping supply grows. Some advertised prices online are incredible for units aged 10 years and over.
Feedback on part-exchange is mixed, for some dealers rising for others decreasing. The influx of first time buyers to the market hampers stock levels, as they have nothing to offer when making their purchase. On the other side, some dealers are reporting more units aged between 2 and 4 years part-exchanged for new vehicles. This is due to the highly discounted unsold 2018 units available; customers are able to trade-up at little cost.
Brexit has dominated the media for 2 ½ years and continues to divide opinion as much as it did leading up to the referendum. Since the referendum result, Brexit has consistently been a topic of conversation within the leisure industry. Over the past six months, the topic has intensified within the market with poor sales statistics blamed on Brexit.
These causes include –
- Consumer confidence being down due to economic uncertainty.
- The poor exchange rate causing price increases, especially for European manufactured products.
On the other side of the fence, some dealers report:
- No change in spending patterns or trends. Especially where consumers have finances available.
- Increased demand for the ‘staycation’ holiday.
One thing is certain, no matter what side of the fence you are on; everyone wants a resolution to Brexit and an end to the current speculation within the market.
For the January edition, Glass’s have decided to hold values. This edition also adds the 1767 plate. For subscribers of the Glass’s caravan app, please ensure that you regularly update the current editions to receive the latest datasets. Since the July 2017 edition, we have added over 1,000 previously unvalued models to our database to help value the vehicles around you.