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May new car market reveals second monthly decline in private buyer demand

The retail new car market has declined for the second consecutive month.

Registrations to private buyers in May were down 3% year-on-year at 89,094, following a 2.5% decline in April.

However May’s new car market overall remained in growth, with its 203,585 registrations a 2.5% rise over May 2015.

Following the trend set in the previous two months, fleet registrations drove the growth, with an 8.8% rise counterbalancing a -3.0% fall in registrations to private customers.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which collates the data, said the total was May’s highest total since 2002.

1,164,870 cars have now been registered in 2016 – 4.1% ahead of the same period last year. However, May demonstrated a continuation of the easing of growth, being the second consecutive month of sub-3% growth in registrations – evidence of increasing market stability following a record 2015.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The new car market in May remained high with compelling offers available on the latest vehicles, but the low growth is further evidence of the market cooling in the face of concerns around economic and political stability.

“Whether this is the result of some buyers holding off until the current uncertainty is resolved or a sign of a more stable market for new cars remains to be seen.”

> AMi - For historical data on the major brands sales and market share performance

> SMMT - For more detail on this month's registration figures

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