Belfast Telegraph

Car sales plummet as consumer mood darkens

By David Elliott

The timid state of the Northern Ireland consumer was revealed once again last month by new data from the motor industry.

Only 1,441 new cars were sold or registered here in December, a 13% fall on the same period last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). For the year as a whole there were 47,229 cars sold in Northern Ireland, a drop of 6,260 from 2010.

New car sales are thought to give a good insight into the mind of the consumer.

"One of the most reliable indicators of consumer sentiment is new car sales as it is based on fact and not opinion," Richard Ramsey, chief economist at Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland said. "It is not surprising that in Northern Ireland new car sales are continuing to fall."

The latest slide means that car sales have now fallen from a peak in 2007 by 31%. That's much sharper than the 19.2% fall witnessed in the UK as a whole but less than the 50% drop from peak witnessed in the Republic.

A total of 1,930,792 cars were sold in the UK in 2011 compared to 2,019,792 the previous year.

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