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UK car sales fall by a third in June

Peter Campbell in London

New car sales in the UK fell by a third in June, the first month that most showrooms were open again after the coronavirus shutdown.

Preliminary sales data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders on Monday show that around 145,000 cars were sold during the month, compared to 223,421 a year earlier.

Dealerships and factories were closed April and May because of the pandemic, and the industry was expecting to have slow trading in the weeks following re-opening, with consumers wary about returning to showrooms and appetite dented by economic uncertainties.

The UK government has so far said there are no plans for an incentive or scrappage scheme to help drive sales.

In France, which has introduced sales incentives, car sales in June rose 1.2 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier.

The UK figures have also been affected by showrooms across Scotland and Wales remaining closed for longer.

While dealerships in England opened at the start of June, Welsh and Scottish sites remained closed until later into the month.

UK sales for the first six months of the year are roughly half the levels seen in 2019.

Around 650,000 cars were sold between January and June this year, compared to 1.3m in the same period last year, preliminary SMMT figures showed.

Detailed figures are due to be released by the SMMT at 9am UK time.

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