As is the norm, light commercial vehicle sales started off sluggishly as we moved into 2018, both in quality of stock offered and in the attendances, with many traders slow to return to work after their Christmas break. However, those that had returned were keen to snap up anything clean or unusual, complemented with sensible miles and ideally a full service history. 

However, December’s a notoriously difficult month to gauge, as it’s often a hive of activity during the first couple of weeks followed by a dramatic slowdown as businesses start to wind down prior to Christmas. 

This seems to have been the case again last year, as volumes sold at auction fell in December by 41.2%. However, this figure was still 3.7% higher than December 2016. Overall, more than 4,500 fewer LCVs were sold at auction during December, a reflection of it being an unusual month, but also a reflection of a general increase in stock availability, the quality of that stock, and the reluctance of the trade to buy unnecessarily as they report less footfall to their sites. 

Average LCV auction sale prices fell by 2.7%, but still stand at £87 higher than at the end of December 2016. Of those sold, 73.9% did so at the first time of asking, down 6.3% on the previous month, but remaining on a par with 12 months ago. The small van sector was the most popular, with an 82.6% first-time conversion rate, with two- to four-year old vans in the same sector proving to be the most popular age at a conversion rate of 83.7%.

With increasing stock availability at auction, there is a growing divide between prices paid for the best on offer and the rest. Expectations for 2018 are for greater volumes to appear on the open market as fleets look to de-fleet through the year, which is likely to impact further on all but the very best examples. Add to that stock re-entries that weren’t sold at the first time of asking and prices are likely to come under downward pressure for those hard-worked, damaged or base models.

Andy Picton is chief commercial vehicle editor of Glass’s, the used vehicle valuation experts.