BANDON, Ore. — CNW Research reported this week that used-vehicle prices saw “a bit of daylight” in the opening weeks of March, with the firm spotting a 5.3 percent increase in transactional prices vs. February for franchised dealers.

“It ain’t much, but at least it’s something,” CNW’s Art Spinella wrote in his firm’s March newsletter. “While still a bit more than 1 percent behind a year ago, it could well be a good sign if this turns into a trend.”

Independent dealers also realized a month-over-month increase in transaction prices, which increased 5.1 percent. Compared to March 2012, prices are still trailing by 2.4 percent.

 Both channels, however, were able to secure a higher percentage of the asking price for the vehicles they sold (94.1 percent vs. 93.2 percent for Franchised Dealer, 93.8 percent vs. 92.7 percent for Independents).

The higher demand for used cars also had another positive effect: It lowered by a touch the days’ supply to a still-acceptable 50 days, reversing a few months of increases.

Wholesale used vehicle prices fell sequentially and on a year-over-year basis in February, supporting the outlook expressed in last month’s commentary that ‘one can expect wholesale prices to resume the general softening pattern that began around mid-2012 and that was interrupted by Superstorm Sandy,’” Spinella wrote.

 Looking at wholesale used-vehicle prices, ADESA Analytical Services reported that prices in February averaged $9,752, a 2.8 percent decline from January and a 1.2 percent drop from February 2012. The only segment that showed a month-over-month average price increase in February was Mini SUVs, which inched up 1.9 percent.

Prices for used vehicles remarketed by manufacturers were up 1 percent year over year, tapering considerably from last month’s 7.7 percent year-over-year increase. Despite the decrease, off-rental program units are continuing to show price strength. Prices for fleet/lease consignors were flat year-over-year. Additionally, Prices fell 4.5 percent year over year for dealer consignors. 

Prices were down on a month-over-month basis for all three seller groups.

Based on data from CNW Marketing/Research, retail used-vehicle sales in February were up 11.6 percent year over year for franchised dealers and 4.4 percent for independent dealers. Similarly, February sales of certified used vehicles were up 5.1 percent vs. the prior-year, according to Autodata Corp.