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New car dealers experience weakest September in six years

The Ford Fiesta was the north's best-selling new car during September
Ryan McAleer

NEW car dealers experienced their weakest September in 13 years, according to new industry data.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that new car registrations slipped to 5,140 during September 2019, 225 fewer (4.2 per cent) than the same month last year.

The ever popular Ford Fiesta was the best-selling new car in the north during September, with 218 registered. The Hyundai Tuscan, Volkswagen Golf, Renault Clio and Ford Focus were among the best-sellers last month.

Overall, 43,129 new cars have been sold in Northern Ireland in the first nine months of 2019, 1.47 percent down on the same period during 2018.

As a whole sales of new cars across the UK fell by 2.53 per cent.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey, said that normally, record labour market data would normally be reflected in consumer spending.

“Not so according to the market for new car sales," he said.

“A buoyant labour market – record levels of employment and strong wage growth – has not been accompanied by rise in new car registrations.

“Last month local dealers reported a four per cent year-on-year drop in new car sales. Indeed, the 5,140 vehicles sold represented the weakest September in over 13 years.”

New car sales for the third quarter fell by a similar margin of just under four per cent year-on-year.

Overall almost 12,300 cars were sold between July and September, marking the lowest third quarter sales figures in seven years.

The economist continued: “2019 looks set to be the fourth year out of the last five with falling new car sales. During the twelve months to September 2019 there were 51,890 new cars sold. This is almost 6,000 (10 per cent) fewer than the recent high in mid-2016 and 25% below the pre-downturn high of 2007.

“With economic conditions deteriorating markedly in recent months, the outlook for consumer sensitive sectors is set to weaken too,” added Mr Ramsey. “2020 could well see new car sales fall below the 50,000 mark for the first time since 2012.”

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