UK new car sales fall nearly 30% amid second Covid lockdown

Demand for new cars in the UK was in November was nearly 30% below the same month last year, as the second national lockdown put a dampener on sales.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said just 113,781 new registrations were recorded in the UK, nearly 43,000 or 27.4% fewer than during November 2019. Trade has not been this poor since the 2008 recession.

Showrooms across England were forced to close for most of November due to the national coronavirus lockdown, but click and collect orders were processed.

Sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars continued to buck the overall trend, with rises across the UK of 122.4% and 76.9% respectively.

Demand for diesel cars continues to fall sharply, with sales in November down 56% year on year.

The SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Compared with the spring lockdown, manufacturers, dealers and consumers were all better prepared to adjust to constrained trading conditions.

“But with £1.3bn worth of new car revenue lost in November alone, the importance of showroom trading to the UK economy is evident and we must ensure they remain open in any future Covid restrictions.

“More positively, with a vaccine now approved, the business and consumer confidence on which this sector depends can only improve, giving the industry more optimism for the turn of the year.”

Private demand fell by 32.2% last month, while the number of new cars added to larger fleets was down 22.1%.

Total registrations during the first 11 months of the year were down 30.7% compared with the same period in 2019.

James Fairclough, the chief executive of AA Cars, said: “England’s November lockdown unsurprisingly knocked new car sales into reverse, with sales across the UK sliding by 27.4% compared with the same time last year.

“As England unlocks once again, the industry will be keen to reset and rebound in December, with dealers likely to fight hard for sales in the run-up to Christmas in an effort to recoup some of the earnings lost during 2020.”