N.I. New Car Sales Up

06 March 2015

Sales of new cars in Northern Ireland, a key economic barometer, were up slightly in February.

There were 4,524 new motors sold last month - up by 2.38% on February 2014, reversing two months of falling new motor sales in December and January. Small but reliable cars continue to dominate.

The increase is underwhelming compared to an average growth of 12% for the UK as a whole and 25% in the Republic of Ireland. At 10,800, the number of new cars sold over the year so far was nearly 2% lower than the same period a year earlier.

Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said Northern Ireland’s economic recovery was lagging behind the rest of the United Kingdom in more than one respect.

"The recent incoming economic indicators (e.g. Ulster Bank PMI, claimant count unemployment) have shown a divergence in the pace of recovery between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

"Following January's blip (-5% y/y), year-on-year growth has returned in February, albeit at a relatively modest rate of just over 2%," he explained.

Mr Ramsey added: "It should be noted that the Republic of Ireland's strong rates of growth have been coming off extremely low levels.  New car sales volumes in the Republic of Ireland over the last 12 months are still 43% below 2007 levels."

And while an upward trend evident in Northern Ireland's figures last year had now been restored, sales over the last 12 months were still 17% below 2007.

"It is noted that England, Scotland and Wales are currently reporting higher volumes of new car sales than prevailed before the recession.  Falling food, energy and petrol bills coupled with pay rises will boost disposable incomes in the year ahead.  In turn, this should lead to increased consumer spending, particularly on big ticket items such as new car sales."

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