Car Sales bounce back as COVID-19 restrictions loosen

New Car sales received a massive boost in April as car showrooms across the UK began to re-open with the loosening of COVID restrictions

Figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that New Car Sales in April 2021 (141,583 Units) received a thirty fold boost compared with the same period last year (4,321 Units). The boost is somewhat artificial since the country was in the midst of a full lockdown in April 2020 due to COVID.

Whilst a true reflection of the figures shows that April 2021 is still -12.9% down on the 10 year average there is still cause for optimism as the industry has demonstrated innovation and resilience in transitioning to online models such as click-and-collect and click-and-deliver as we predicted in March 2020. The SMMT shares in this optimism and has revised it's forecast for 2021 upwards from 1.83m to 1.86m new car registrations by end of the year. That translates to a forecasted increase of 13.9% on 2020.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “After one of the darkest years in automotive history, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A full recovery for the sector is still some way off, but with showrooms open and consumers able to test drive the latest, cleanest models, the industry can begin to rebuild. Market confidence is improving, and we now expect to finish the year in a slightly better position than anticipated in February, largely thanks to the more upbeat business and consumer confidence created by the successful vaccine rollout. That confidence should also translate into another record year for electric vehicles, which will likely account for more than one in seven new car registrations.”

Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK also commented on the figures released today, saying, “It is extremely encouraging to see sales of new cars bounce back in April reflecting the significant pent-up demand as the lockdown was eased across the UK and dealerships reopened. April’s results are positive considering dealerships have been open for less than three weeks, with sales previously supported by click & collect; since reopening, customer footfall and volume of enquiries at dealerships have been strong and driving schools are seeing a major increase in young people booking driving lessons and tests. All of this leads us to believe that there is a very upbeat outlook ahead for the motor industry in the summer and retailers are looking forward to a further release of the pent-up demand accumulated over the past months”.

Click here to see the full SMMT release