The number of new cars sold in the UK has fallen for the first time in a year.
Year-on-year registrations fell by 13.2% in July, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show, the first drop after 12 months of successive rises.
The lull is being blamed on the end of the scrappage scheme, which made new cars more affordable for thousands of motorists and gave last year’s overall sales a much-needed boost.
Drop in car sales ‘expected’
‘A drop in private registrations compared with the scrappage-fuelled months of 2009 was expected, and has brought the first market decline for 12 months,’ said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt.
Despite last month’s drop in sales, 2010’s new-car market is up overall. The SMMT said sales for the first seven months of 2010 were 15.1% higher than in the same period last year.
But SMMT experts say January’s VAT rise and wider uncertainty over the economy could lead to a 15% decrease in sales over the rest of the year, leaving the market just 1.2% stronger overall than in 2010.
Buy new cars before January
‘Many private buyers took advantage of the scrappage scheme last year,’ said Which? Car editor Richard Headland, ‘so it’s no surprise they’re not flocking to showrooms at present.
‘August is usually a quiet month for new car registrations too, but many buyers will be placing orders for the new ’60’ plate, which comes into effect on 1st September. With VAT going up to 20% in January 2011, it makes sense to complete new car purchases before then if you can.’
Follow Which? Car on Twitter
The Which? Car team is on Twitter, to offer you help and advice as and when you need it.
We’re monitoring our Twitter account every day, so if you have an account, please send us you thoughts and questions to @whichcar.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got a Twitter account – you can still stay in the loop by regularly checking www.twitter.com/whichcar.