AMID August’s strong set of new car registrations, the number of business sales declined for the first time in 2014.
It has led Glass’s to analyse the reasons for it and has concluded that additional factors may be involved.
According to the SMMT, 72,163 vehicles were registered August, with fleet registrations recording the highest volume.
Private registrations claimed the honours for August year-on-year growth, at 10.3 per cent compared to the same month in 2013. Fleet registrations showed similar growth, at 10 per cent.
However, growth in business registrations fell for the first time in 2014, by 13.8 per cent, with a total volume 269 units lower than the previous year.
Andrew Jackson, head of analytics at Glass’s, said: ‘This begs the question, is the business segment waiting for the plate change or is economic uncertainty beginning to unsettle that sector’s purchasing behaviour?’
At 20,749 vehicles, August’s top 10 highest-performing models were down in total by nearly 60 per cent compared to 2013 volumes. Glass’s feels that this can be largely attributed to the reluctance of buyers to purchase when they are aware that a new number plate is just around the corner. Fiesta, Focus and Corsa took first, second and third places, respectively, with 4,657, 2,740 and 2,435 registrations.
‘No vehicles in the top 10 registered growth versus the previous year,’ said Jackson. ‘Somewhat surprisingly, it is the Nissan Qashqai that stands out for all the wrong reasons as its registration volumes slumped by 73 per cent versus 2013. One expects that the Qashqai will bounce back strongly in September, and it will certainly be interesting to see if this is the case when September’s overall SMMT figures are released.’
Decline more pronounced
Glass’s says the fall in August registrations for the business sector has been more pronounced this year than was expected. Glass’s notes that this is especially remarkable as the 2013 new registration volumes for the sector were also subdued relative to the general market performance.
Jackson said: ‘It does lead one to consider whether recent downgrades in export growth may be a leading indicator for economic turbulence in other areas. After all, concerns have been raised regarding future levels of business activity, and the manufacturing sector has also grown at its slowest pace for 14 months.
‘Looking at the information currently available, it would appear that whilst the risk of economic headwinds can never be totally discounted, the fact is that the UK is recovering at a faster rate than its export partners.’
Glass’s feels that the fourth quarter’s underlying economy will continue to exhibit the strength that has been experienced throughout 2014 and consequently the potential risks to new registration volumes will primarily come from seasonal demand and market saturation. The last point in particular may well be manifesting itself in private registrations, as the slowdown which Glass’s has been referencing for several months has now been corroborated by the SMMT.
Glass’s expects to see business bounce back after a relatively quiet August, with fleet registrations exhibiting stronger growth than seen in that month. It predicts that Private registrations will show the lowest growth of the three segments. Overall, Glass’s forecasts a new registration volume of approximately 425,000 units for September.