Consumers are gearing up to spend more on their next car than they were planning to before confinement began in March.

Data from the online car marketplace BuyaCar.co.uk reveals that the average price of cars being reserved for purchase when lockdown is eased has shot up to a record level.

Average prices paid on BuyaCar.co.uk fell to a three-year low of £11,366 during April this year – down from £13,590 paid during April 2019. But the first week in May has seen the average price of a car reserved for future delivery rocket to nearly £16,000.

Analysts at Buyacar.co.uk point out that this is despite an increase in the proportion of cheaper ‘budget’ cars available on the site. They are now speculating that enforced slowing of car-buying activity since March has created not only pent-up demand but a stronger consumer appetite to splash out on a better car than they originally planned to buy.

BuyaCar has continued to deliver cars during the Covid-19 pandemic but restricted its sales to key workers, tradespeople and those for whom a car is essential to looking after their family or vulnerable people. But the data released this week relates to cars reserved on BuyaCar.co.uk in recent days which will be delivered after restrictions are eased.

In February that gap was just £448, rising in March as the crisis deepened to almost £1,000. But in April, as key workers in particular, such as NHS staff, made strictly essential purchases the difference between what they originally chose and actually bought was a record £1,745.

Andy Oldham, Chief Executive of BuyaCar.co.uk, said: “Our sales and buying intentions data reveals a fascinating picture of the car market at its most distressed and suggests that there is going to be a surge in spending when the market begins to recover.

“The value of our contribution to keeping key workers mobile by offering them free delivery and a free warranty is demonstrated by how careful those people have been in their buying choices. I am delighted that with the help of our supplying dealer partners who managed to safely continue their support for us, we have made a real difference.

“It seems that car sales in general are heading toward a busy re-start. Our own website traffic reveals a 71% bounce back from the depths of early in the lockdown and we look forward to being able to resume our normal service as soon as we get the green light.”