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November lockdown in England sees new car sales drop by 27.4 per cent, SMMT figures show

Time 7 months ago

New car sales dropped by nearly a third in November as the lockdown in England made its impact felt, the SMMT announced today (Dec 4).

Registrations were down by 27.4 per cent to 113,781 year-on-year. The trade body said that had taken trade back to levels that were last seen during the 2008 recession.

They’d been predicted to drop by a third, as reported by Car Dealer, and the SMMT said the decline wasn’t as severe as during the first lockdown – which was UK-wide – when they sank by a record 97.3 per cent in April, while May saw them fall by 89 per cent.


The SMMT said that this time retailers and manufacturers were better prepared to fulfil orders via delivery or click-and-collect.

Nevertheless, private demand still fell by 32.2 per cent and registrations by large fleets were down by 22.1 per cent.

The market share for battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids continued to grow significantly – up 122.4 per cent and 76.9 per cent respectively.

BEVs enjoyed their third-highest monthly share of registrations at 9.1 per cent, while PHEV share increased to 6.8 per cent – a combined total of more than 18,000 new zero-emission-capable cars on the roads.

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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.’

October’s figures were down 1.6 per cent at 140,945 – a nine-year low for the month.

All told, the pandemic-related closures have cost the sector 663,761 units to date this year, said the SMMT.

It added that meant some 31,000 cars would have to be registered every working day in December to achieve the level expected at the start of 2020.

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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