New car sales down again as cash-strapped buyers opt for second-hand

Car buyers in Northern Ireland are turning to the second hand market as sales of new cars fell again
Gary McDonald Business Editor

FIRST-time car registrations in Northern Ireland slumped by 15 per cent in July in another sign that the cost of living crisis is steadily eroding disposable incomes.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal that just 2,759 new motors left showrooms last month.

That was down from 3,243 recorded in the same month in 2021.

In the year to date, however, the car market in the north is generally where it was a year ago, with 23,898 sold against 24,096 at the same point 12 months back.

That's a decline of less than 1 per cent, while in the UK as a whole - which in June had its lowest recorded new car sales in over a quarter of a century - sales are 11.5 per cent down on a year ago.

James Fairclough, chief executive of AA Cars, said the figures are “a bitter pill to swallow".

He added: “The steadily improving sales of EVs are a rare crumb of comfort in a mostly grim set of sales data, and the second half of the year is off to a weak start.

“However, the overall slowdown in sales does come amid some more positive signs of recovery in the supply of new cars for sale.

“Separate SMMT data published last week showed that the number of vehicles rolling off UK production lines has now increased for two months in a row.

“While global car production is still below par, improving supply will be very welcome among the many dealers who struggled to meet buyer demand for new cars in the first half of the year.

“As supply improves, attention is switching back to consumer demand - and how the UK's slowing economy will affect people's willingness to make big ticket purchases.

“With reducing disposable incomes, the desire for better value has led many prospective buyers to focus on the second-hand market, and many dealers report that sales of used vehicles continue to outpace those of brand new models.

“In the current fragile market, used cars have a clear advantage over their brand new rivals - availability.

“And while surging demand has pushed up second-hand prices in many parts of the country, there are some competitive used deals to be had, particularly for buyers who do their research and consider searching outside their local area."

Top 10 new car registrations in Northern Ireland in June were:

1 Hyundai Tucson

2 Dacia Sandero

3 Renault Captur

4 Hyundai Kona

5 Volkswagen Golf

6 Ford Kuga

7 Ford Ecosport

8 Ford Fiesta

9 Ford Puma

10 Nissan Qashqai