Northern Ireland's motorists put brakes on buying new cars
NI dealers report 4.2% sales fall in September
New car sales in Northern Ireland are falling, according to the latest industry figures.
The number of new cars sold last month was 5,140, down 4.2% on the figure for September 2018, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Elsewhere in the UK, new car sales in England rose by 2.9%, while Scotland experienced a massive 11.3% drop and Wales had a reduction of 0.5%.
At the same time, new car sales here so far this year up to September have fallen by 1.5% - from 43,772 last year to 43,129 this year.
This was the second smallest drop after Wales, which had a 1.3% reduction in sales. Elsewhere, England's sales fell by 2.4%, while Scotland saw a 4.7% reduction.
The most popular car sold in Northern Ireland in September was the Ford Fiesta, which is also the most popular car sold to date this year.
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said that a buoyant labour market, with record levels of employment and strong wage growth, has not translated to new car sales.
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"Last month local dealers reported a 4% year-on-year drop in new car sales," he added.
"Indeed, the 5,140 vehicles sold represented the weakest September in over 13 years. New car sales for the third quarter fell by a similar margin of close to 4% year on year.
"Overall almost 12,300 cars were sold, marking the lowest third quarter sales figures in seven years. 2019 looks set to be the fourth year out of the last five with falling new car sales.
"During the 12 months to September 2019 there were 51,890 new cars sold. This is almost 6,000 (10%) fewer than the recent high in mid-2016 and 25% below the pre-downturn high of 2007.
"With economic conditions deteriorating markedly in recent months the outlook for consumer sensitive sectors is set to weaken too. The year 2020 could well see new car sales fall below the 50,000 mark for the first time since 2012."
Across the UK, sales of diesel models were down 20.6% during the first nine months of 2019, while demand for new petrol models was up 2.6%.
The market for battery electric cars is up by 122.1%.