Industry experts say it will be weeks before more used cars hit sales lots in north Queensland.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the industry has seen both a lull and a boom in sales.
In recent weeks, however, the ideal bargain has been hard to come by in regional areas.
Townsville used car sales manager Craig McGrath said trade-ins had slowed, meaning less choice for customers.
“There is a limited number of vehicles available to the public at the moment,” he said.
“With COVID and the manufacturing of new vehicles, there’s a delay in the supply of new vehicles, which then slows down the volume of used cars that come from trade-ins.”
The most sought-after vehicles are SUVs, pickups and cab/chassis utes, especially those that are two to three years old, but the trade-in lull means they are more rare than ever.
“If you find something you like, you should snap it up because the next person definitely will,” Mr McGrath said.
“People are just getting what they need to get without taking that two to three-week period to think about it.
“The turnaround time from our customers is extremely quick.”
Halt in fleet vehicle turnover
The lack of used cars is also attributable to a slower turnover of fleet vehicles, according to Jeremy Moger who oversees commercial data and analytics at CarSales.com.au.
Auction houses are among the biggest players in the used car industry and, by Mr Moger’s observations, they are struggling to find stock from the usual sources.
“In metropolitan areas, large organisations and companies buy large fleets and turn them over quite regularly,” he said.
“Those cars filter down through auction houses, get distributed to used car networks, [and] they distribute their vehicles to regional and rural regions.
“Without that large company turning over their stock as much as they normally would, auction houses are struggling with their stock.
“Therefore, the availability of stock in rural areas is even more strained.”
Supply surge expected
Mr Moger said a good digital strategy was crucial for those trying to navigate the market while there was low supply and high demand.
He said, however, the issue should ease in the coming weeks.
“Some of the supply from overseas is starting flow again,” he said.
“We think that it’s still going to be pretty tough and there’s still going to be some issues with stock supply for another six weeks realistically before anything changes aggressively.
“That’s not really going to hit until late October.”