New car sales stall in Northern Ireland
THE number of new cars bought in Northern Ireland took a 2 per cent dip in October compared to the same month last year.
However, figures remain flat for the year to date with 52,145 new registrations to the end of October (up 0.35 per cent on the same period in 2015).
The data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed new car sales grew by 1.4 per cent across the UK in October compared with the same month last year.
Growth was driven by the fleet sector, which saw a 4.2 per cent rise. Private registrations fell by 1.1 per cent.
Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey said the flat figures in the north came despite a rise in disposable incomes over the past two years.
"2015 and 2016 have certainly been the year of the consumer," he said.
"Low or no inflation coupled with notable wage growth and favourable tax changes (eg raising the personal allowance income tax threshold) have all boosted disposable incomes.
"However, 2015 and 2016 have certainly not been the year for local new car sales.
"Following stagnation in sales growth last year, 2016 looks set to be more of the same.
"While the UK continues to post record new car sales, Northern Ireland’s showrooms are reporting sales that are 12 per cent below the levels experienced a decade ago."
And he said the outlook wasn't too promising for 2017.
"Looking ahead, with inflationary pressures filtering through fast and key benefits frozen until 2020, 2017 is anticipated to be a challenging year for UK and Northern Ireland consumers," he added.
"Given that outlook, 2017 could well see a third successive year of stagnation in new car sales in Northern Ireland.”
The Ford Fiesta was the most popular new car in the north last month with 1,893 registrations followed by the Volkswagen Golf (1,649) and Hyundai Tucson (1,639).
Considering the wider UK market, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes added: "September's number plate change is always a hard act to follow so the market's growth in October, albeit moderate, is welcome news.
"Low interest rates, affordable finance packages and a range of exciting new models helped attract buyers into showrooms and we now look to Government to ensure consumer and business confidence remains buoyant."
Top 10 new cars in Northern Ireland
1 Ford Fiesta 1,893
2 Volkswagen Golf 1,649
3 Hyundai Tucson 1,639
4 Volkswagen Polo 1,333
5 Ford Focus 1,172
6 Nissan Qashqai 1,163
7 Ford Kuga 1,133
8 Kia Sportage 1,111
9 Vauxhall Mokka 959
10 Renault Kadjar 900