Decline in new car sales starts to slow

THE UK’s post-recession decline in car sales may be on the verge of bottoming out, according to data released yesterday.

New car registrations recorded a fall for the 11th straight month in May – yet the 1.7 per cent annualised drop was the smallest since July of last year.

The market is expected to stabilise in the third quarter of this year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which compiled the figures.

Car sales are down 7.3 per cent in the year to date, yet fleet and business purchases are up 3.8 per cent and 5.7 per cent respectively.

“Consumers remain cautious,” noted Paul Everitt of SMMT, with private sales down 18.9 per cent in 2011 so far, compared to the same period last year.

Distortions in the figures from the car scrappage scheme “have almost washed through now,” according to the report. New registrations spiked early in 2010 due to temporary government incentives in the scheme.