Firebreak douses demand in Wales as overall car sales fell in October

Published:  05 November, 2020

New car sales were down again in October, with registrations falling 1.6% year-on-year according to the latest figures published today (Thursday 5 November) by the SMMT. There were 140,945 new registrations last month, making it the weakest October since 2011 and 10.1% lower than the average recorded over the last decade.

While the release of the figures co-incided with the start of England’s month-long new lockdown, it was actually the pre-existing firebreak lockdown in Wales which has impacted on the figures. The geography-specific anti-Coronavirus measure started on 23 October and  led to the 25.5% fewer registrations in the country by the end of the month. This accountedfor more than half of the overall UK decline.

According to the SMMT, the industry had been expecting to register about 1.66 million new cars in 2020. However, with the announcement of a second lockdown for England, which will include the closure of vehicle showrooms, the market forecast has been downgraded by a further 100,000 units to 1.56 million. This equates to a total year-on-year decline of around 750,000 registrations and a £22.5 billion loss in turnover, with 2020 now likely to be the weakest year since 1982.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “When showrooms shut, demand drops, so there is a real danger that with England today entering a second lockdown, both dealers and manufacturers could face temporary closure. What is not in doubt, however, is that the entire industry now faces an even tougher end to the year as businesses desperately try to manage resources, stock, production and cashflow in the penultimate month before the inevitable upheaval of Brexit. Keeping showrooms open – some of the most Covid-secure retail environments around – would help cushion the blow but, more than ever, we need a tariff-free deal with the EU to provide some much-needed respite for an industry that is resilient but massively challenged.”

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