Sales of new cars in Northern Ireland were down 7% to around 2,942 in November compared to the month before, according to a report.
nd over the first 11 months of the year sales of new cars both here and across the UK as a whole were down by 30% on 2019, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Lockdowns throughout 2020 that brought the closure of non-essential retail have hit the car sales market badly.
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the month had marked the weakest November in eight years, and the weakest month for sales during 2020, apart from April and May when showrooms were shut during the spring lockdown. And he added that next year was unlikely to bring improvements.
“With unemployment set to surge in 2021, next year is set to be challenging for dealers of new cars, and consumer sensitive sectors in general,” he said.
SMMT said that, overall, the market had suffered a £1.3bn revenue hit in November, with showrooms in England affected by the closure of non-essential retail throughout the month. And sales in November were at levels last seen during the economic downturn of 2008.
In the UK as a whole, there had been 663,761 fewer units sold throughout 2020 compared to the year before. The Volkswagen Golf was the top selling car in November, while across the year the Ford Focus has been the most popular new car locally, with 973 sold.
In the chart of the best-selling vehicles of 2020, the Focus was closely followed by Ford sister the Fiesta, with 972 sold. However, the Focus only scraped to ninth place in November, while the Fiesta was sixth.
The Nissan Qashqai was the second-highest seller in November, followed by the Renault Captur. The Hyundai Tucson was at number four, and the Peugeot 3008 at number five.
The Tucson is also the third-best seller over the year so far, with the Volkswagen Golf at number four, and the Nissan Qashqai at number five.
Showrooms in England had been able to sell cars via delivery or click and collect during November. Showrooms in Wales were also open for most of November following a 17-day firebreaker lockdown from the end of October.
And in Scotland 11 areas will remain in lockdown, affecting non-essential retail until December 11.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, 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.”
UK-wide, market share had grown for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs).
BEV sales had more than doubled year-on-year, while plug-in sales grew by more than three-quarters.
SMMT said that the reopening of Covid-secure showrooms “will help protect jobs in retail and manufacturing and should help stimulate spending”.
— to www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk