Posted on 14/05/2013

SMMT figures show UK car sales continue to defy European trend

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UK car sales outperform expectations in March continuing the trend of defying the downturn seen across much of Europe. Registrations rose 5.9 per cent in March when compared to the previous month.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures represent the 13th consecutive month of growth in new car registrations, with volumes the highest since 2010 when the Scrappage Incentive Scheme supported the market.

Over the first three months of 2013 registrations have increased by 7.4 per cent, driven by strong demand in private registrations. Typically car sales are strong in March, when new number plates are released, but the increase is well above the 2 per cent recorded last year over the same period.

Mike Baunton, SMMT interim Chief Executive, said, “Despite ongoing economic concerns, consistently monthly growth in the market is an encouraging sign of returning consumer confidence as motorists are attracted to forecourts by new models and latest technologies.”

Registrations of commercial vehicles also supported the market, with an 8.1 per cent increase in March, leading to a 7 per cent increase on the year to date.

Nigel Base, SMMT Commercial Vehicle Manger, said, “Overall commercial vehicle registrations continue to perform positively with the market increasing 8.1 per cent, boosted by an uplift in van demand.”

The better than expected figures should support new growth in the market in 2013. The Q1 outturn was 2.7 per cent above SMMT’s forecast, which could lead to the market exceeding SMMT’s 2.057 million unit full year outlook. The organisation however added that ‘trading conditions remain challenging, given the subdued wider economic outlook’.

Being aware of the UK market conditions and that of the wider global economy, particularly in the EU, is vital for motor manufacturers and traders. Keeping an eye on suppliers’, customers’ and competitors’ situations can reduce the risk of negative knock on effects such as late payments and bad debt.

Graydon’s CreditWatch gives businesses the opportunity to actively monitor this supply chain and be safe in the knowledge that they will be alerted should any changes require their attention.