FIGURES for September new car sales are out – and they don’t make healthy reading.
As dealers feared, sales are down. Well down. A fall of 21.2 per cent over September ’07 is the headline-grabbing figure.
This means that the year-to-date total fall, currently standing at 7.5 per cent, looks set to plunge further during the rest of the year. Already, the last three months are down a startling 18.8 per cent. Leading the SMMT to deem trading conditions the worst in 17 years.
An immediate response is called for. ‘Government action is now needed to restore consumer confidence and boost demand in the real economy,’ said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt.
‘The chancellor’s pre-budget report should set out a package of measures to boost demand for new fuel-efficient cars, and scrap plans for unfair increases in car tax.’
That latter point is something Car Dealer expects to become something of a hot potato over the coming months, as consumers start to realise the full dramatic significance of next March’s VED changes.
As for September, it usually accounts for more than 17 per cent of new car sales, and is behind only March in the important-month stakes. So as a barometer of conditions, it’s usually spot-on accurate.
And a difference of 120,000 car sales between March 08 and September 08 is not something any industry can take lightly.
It’s the profitable retail sector that’s worst hit, too – down over 23 per cent. No wonder, given consumer confidence the way it is, says the SMMT. Retail sales formed 45 per cent of September sales, a fall in a trend that had been moving towards an even split.
Fleet is down too, mind, by 16.1 per cent. And business recorded a whopping 37.1 per cent decline.
So which cars were the ‘winners’? The Corsa was Britain’s best-selling car in September, but Ford’s Focus remains favourite overall in 2008 – despite dropping to fourth in September. It was beaten by its supermini sister, the Fiesta, and Vauxhall’s Astra.
Come back soon for Car Dealer’s full analysis of the gloomy statistics…