30% Decline in 21-plate New Car Orders

New ‘21’ number plate cars in March were down by 30%, according to new data from Cox Automotive.

Analysis of auction sales during the national lockdowns show both new and used car sales have fallen below expectations during the second and third lockdown.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, suggested that car dealers should be braced for “a third, successive dismal new plate month” in March after the third lockdown delivered a 35.5% decline to the UK’s new car registrations in February.

Research carried out by Cox Automotive shows that click and collect schemes are not working well enough to make up the sales shortfall.

  • Franchised dealers reported 48.9 average days in stock, compared to 42.4 the previous year.
  • Independent dealers reported 48.8 days, compared to 42.5 in the previous year.
  • Car supermarkets reported 48.1 days compared to 40.6 days in January 2020.

Insight and Strategy Director at Cox Automotive, Philip Nothard, said: “The data on car sales during the third lockdown makes for difficult reading, but it also provides some optimism.”

“Seventy percent of dealers report the third lockdown has caused a 10-30% reduction in new car orders, and 17% of dealers have been hit as badly as up to 50%.”

“Thankfully, over half of the dealers we asked believe that economic conditions will improve once the third lockdown ends.”

“The opening of car showrooms on April 12 is a real opportunity for dealers to boost sales volumes after a hugely challenging 12 months. April and May could see a surge in new car sales, coinciding with the recent release of the new ‘21’ number plate.

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