While stock availability on the open market is not an issue, finding the quality is proving more difficult, with traders struggling to buy at what they believe is a sensible price. Likewise, replacing sold stock with similar quality at similar money is also proving a challenge.

Overall volumes sold at auction in February decreased by 11.9% over January and was down 5.1% on the same point last year. Overall, nearly 1,400 fewer light commercial vehicles were sold at auction, reflecting a squeeze on the quality of available stock and continued caution in the economy.

However, the average sale price increased by 4.1% over the month and now sits £577 higher than 12 months ago. Of those sold, 80.1% did so at the first time of asking, up 7.7% on the previous month and 8.7% on February 2017, while stock that sold first time did so for £315 (5%) more on average than those sold on the second or subsequent occasion.

With less ready-to-retail quality stock available, sale prices increased between £50 and £175 across the board as buyers fought over the best stock. Average mileages rose by 1,400 miles – however, the average age of stock sold reduced by three months.

The small van sector was dominated by the Ford Transit Connect, VW Caddy and Citroen Berlingo ranges with all offered regularly at auction and the nicest examples finding new homes without difficulty.

A constant of the auction scene is the popularity of the Ford Transit Custom, the VW Transporter and the Renault Trafic, and although sales of medium panel vans were down by more than 550 units on January, this sector still makes up nearly 36% of all sales at auction.

The large van sector remains most popular in the two- to four-year-old age bracket with nearly 700 units sold during February at an average sale price of nearly £8,300. Both vans and derivatives such as dropsides, tippers and Luton vans continue to enjoy plenty of success if the condition and mileage is right.

Sales of 4×4 pick-ups were down by under 100 units on January, but were up over 320 units on February 2017. There remains a large number available at auction, with buyers able to cherry-pick the nicest examples. Nevertheless, buyers are having to pay more to take ownership, with each one costing on average £375 more than in February last year.

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