Demand for new cars down 35 per cent in June

Sector’s hope for release of pent-up sales not yet occurred as confidence for big ticket purchases remains weak

UK new car registrations fell 34.9 per cent in June, according to figures published this week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The drop was an improvement on May’s figures but still represents a significant decline of 78,044 compared with June 2019, as dealerships in Wales and Scotland remained closed for much of the month.

The lacklustre performance means that the market is almost 616,000 units, or 48.5 per cent, behind the same period last year, with some 240,000 private sales lost since consumers were told to ‘stay at home’ and retailers forced to close, resulting in an estimated £1.1 billion loss to the Treasury in VAT receipts alone.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said,: “While it’s welcome to see demand rise above the rock-bottom levels we saw during lockdown, this is not a recovery and barely a restart.

“Many of June’s registrations could be attributed to customers finally being able to collect their pre-pandemic orders, and appetite for significant spending remains questionable.

“The government must boost the economy, help customers feel safer in their jobs and in their spending and give businesses the confidence to invest in their fleets.

“Otherwise it runs the risk of losing billions more in revenue from this critical sector at a time when the public purse needs it more than ever.”

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