New car sales rise drives market confidence
11% increase reveals consumers are back to buying big ticket items
Consumer confidence in Northern Ireland is picking up, according to the latest data which reveals a steady climb in the number of new cars on the road.
A total of 3,812 new vehicles were registered here in July, an 11% increase on the same month last year, bringing the total number of new cars for the year so far to 33,810, a 7.5% rise on 2012.
The figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers bode well for the economy as they signal that consumers are confident enough to invest in so-called "big ticket" items.
When it comes to the most popular type of car being purchased, the top two spots continue to be hogged by the Ford with the Focus in second with 1,207 sold, and the Fiesta topping the league table with 1,643 cars registered.
But in a sign the economy is yet to fully recover, there is still no place for the premium makes such as BMW in the top 10.
Tellingly, the Kia Sportage, a South Korean manufacturer known more for value models, makes it on to the list at No10.
And although registrations in Northern Ireland are on the up, we've still some way to go before we catch up with other regions.
New car registrations in England increased 10% on the year-to-date, 14% in Scotland and in Wales they rose 18%. Total registrations across the UK totalled 1.3m, an overall increase of 10%.
Richard Ramsey, economist at Ulster Bank in Belfast, said the figures offer a boost to economic sentiment. He added: "The peak in new car sales in 2007 coincided with the housing boom.
"The latest figures highlight that local new car sales have posted six consecutive months of year-on-year increases.
"This provides yet more evidence that a recovery appears to be taking hold in Northern Ireland. Last month's new car sales represented the best July figures since 2009.
"So far this year there have been 2,370 more new car sales relative to last year. That's an additional 79 new car sales each week.
"Nevertheless, the number of new car sales so far this year is less than three-quarters of the number sold in 2007."
Colin McNab, of the Charles Hurst Group, said: "Certainly, we have experienced relatively strong growth overall this year in terms of new car sales, which has been helped by the introduction of a range of exciting new models which combine unbeatable value with greater fuel economy.
"We believe today's figures provide a positive sign for the UK economy and, indeed, for the local economy."