6 January 2004

Falling new car sales could spell a bumper 2004 for anyone looking for a discount.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is already predicting that after a record 2003, new car sales will take a tumble this year and in early 2005. With manufacturers having to work harder to secure sales, it can only mean better consumer offers, juicier deals and more attractive trade-in prices, in an attempt to get more buyers into the showrooms and signing on the dotted line.

A shrinking used market will not make things quite so favourable for second-hand buyers, however. Autocar used car expert John Coates is one pundit foreseeing a less rosy picture for private buyers.

'Prices will rise slightly all the way through to the summer,' he predicts. 'Oversupply is being sorted out and buyers will have less choice and be paying more as a result. Especially if they want clean, low-mileage models.'

But our man does see some of the rises being tempered by main dealers coming under more pressure and lowering prices in 2004.

'More buyers are starting to view franchised dealers as overpriced,' he says, 'especially next to the growing attraction of used-car supersites and auctions. They may have to start competing on price.'

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