New car sales down 54 per cent for 2020 as showrooms prepare to reopen

A total of 18 new Skoda Fabia cars were sold in Northern Ireland in May 2020.
Ryan McAleer

CAR showrooms may be readying to reopen from Monday, but sales of new motors are already down 54 per cent this year according to new data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The trade body said just 144 new cars were registered in the north during March, 97 per cent down on the 4,931 from May 2019.

SMMT’s last report said just 24 new cars were sold in April.

In all, just 11,885 new cars were sold in Northern Ireland in the first five months of 2020, less than half of the 25,667 from the same five months last year.

Just 168 were sold in the last two months.

The 144 sold in May, included 18 Skoda Fabias.

Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey said lifting the lockdown on car retailers from Monday will remove a critical obstacle to sales activity.

“In the months ahead we will see whether there is pent-up demand or whether consumer behaviours have changed. Both are likely to be true.

“During the last recession, the car market saw financially constrained consumers shift towards smaller vehicles but maintained loyalty towards the more prestige brands in the market.”

Pointing to the surge in sales for bicycles and the number of people working from home since March, he added: “Consumers’ transport needs and motoring requirements could well be very different to what they were a few months ago. And this is before the financial implications of the current recession are taken into account.”

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