Steep decline in car sales levelling out after smallest fall since February
NEW car sales suffered their smallest decline since February as automotive firms began to get back into gear, industry figures show.
A total of 145,377 new cars were registered in June, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). It was a drop of 34.9pc on the same month a year ago, but a stronger performance than March, April and May – when demand was down by a respective 44pc, 97pc and 89pc.
Overall sales to the end of May stood at 324,763, down 42pc on the same period in 2019.
Dealers in England reopened their doors at the start of last month, followed soon after by Scotland and Wales. However, it is feared that even if demand continues to recover, car firms may struggle to produce enough vehicles to take advantage due to anti-Covid measures and the bleak economic picture.
Seán Kemple, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: “Faced with social distancing restrictions, job losses and falling profits, it will be no easy task for manufacturers to kick-start production to pre-Covid-19 levels.
“Beyond the immediate uplift, once available stock has been swept off the forecourts, buyers will likely face long waiting times for their cars, which will slow recovery.”
Research by magazine and website What Car? found that one in three potential buyers are putting off purchases in the hope the Government will offer cash support to boost the market.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes described the latest figures as “not a recovery and barely a restart”. He added that many of the cars counted in June’s figures were those sold before lockdown, with motorists only being able to collect them as restrictions ease.
Concerns about using public transport during the coronavirus crisis have pushed up the price of used cars as people see driving as a safer alternative to trains and buses.
There has been particular interest for smaller, cheaper secondhand cars according to price tracking firm Cap HPI.
Thousands of new cars are being held in storage in Corby, Northamptonshire, instead of in showrooms due to a fall in sales amid the Covid-19 pandemic. New car sales dropped by 34.9pc last month, according to the SMMT