The used-car industry not only had a good December, it had a good year, CNW Research reported today. Total used sales for December were up almost 12 percent, while sales for the year were up 5.2 percent.

Used-vehicle sales at franchised dealerships were up 8 percent, while sales at independents increased 5.8 percent from last year. Casual sales increased 1.1 percent, but CNW noted that private party sales experienced their fourth monthly sequential share increase, as a growing number of consumers used free Internet sites such as Craigslist to find buyers.

“Other online sites such as are also high on the list of private-party selling venues, with a 13 percent increase in vehicles offered on the Internet,” noted CNW’s Art Spinella, who reported that 3.142 million used vehicles were sold in December.

December also marked the highest monthly share of used-vehicle inventories being offered over the Internet, up from 69 percent last year to 73.1 percent. Total used-vehicle sales for the year ended at 38.79 million vehicles.

Spinella added that even though transaction prices in December were off slightly, more than 1 percent vs. a year ago, the higher volume pushed total value of used cars and trucks to $28.2 billion vs. 25.6 billion a year ago. Spinella noted that values are based on transaction prices in all three channels, and include aftermarket product sales such as service contracts. Taxes and fees were excluded, however.

“More Americans are shopping for used cars than a year ago,” wrote Spinella. “The number of ‘Shoppers to Buyers’ jumped by 20 percent vs. a year ago. In hard numbers, about 8.7 million consumers were actively on the hunt for a used car this December vs. 8.1 million a year ago.”