Shoppers shun new cars amid uncertainty over Europe

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DRIVERS put the brakes on buying new cars in June, figures showed today, sparking worries that Brexit fears are deterring consumers from big-ticket purchases.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders revealed a 0.8% fall in new car sales compared with a year earlier, the first drop since last October and only the second since February 2012. 

The breakdown showed a much deeper 4.5% slump in private cars buying over the month. For now, this is being largely compensated by rising fleet sales to bigger companies.

The alarming signs took the gloss off the 1.42 million new cars sold in the first six months of the year, a record half-year performance, as buyers have been buoyed by near-zero inflation, cheap finance deals and a strong jobs market.

Chief executive Mike Hawes said it was “far too soon” to judge the impact of the referendum on the new cars market. 

He added: “The market undoubtedly cooled over the second quarter. It’s important government takes every measure to restore business and economic confidence to avoid the market contracting in the coming months.”

IHS Global Insight’s Howard Archer said: “Fleet operators could increasingly delay and reduce replacement of their existing cars in a more uncertain and weaker economic environment. 

“Meanwhile, the car sector must have serious concerns consumers will cut back on buying new cars.”

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July 6, 2016 |
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