In a surprising trend UK car sales have risen for the 12th consecutive month, defying the performance of the wider economy and confounding evidence that suggests the squeeze on household spending shows no sign of abating.
Data published today from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that there were 66,749 new registrations in the UK in February, up by 7.9 per cent on the number of sales in February 2012.
So far, in 2013, there have been 210,392 sales, up by 10.3 per cent on sales in the first two months of 2012.
This is in marked contrast to the trend across Europe and has helped to make the UK the top performing market for car manufacturers in Europe. Most of the rest of Europe has seen demand fall as a result of constrained demand due to the euro debt crisis.
Howard Archer, Chief UK & European Economist at IHS Global Insight said: “Car sales are currently a bright spot in the UK economy. The SMMT reported a healthy rise of 7.9% year-on-year in car sales in February following a rise of 11.5% year-on-year in January. This meant that car sales were up 10.3% year-on-year overall during the first two months of 2013.
“Car sales have started off 2013 pretty well after a surprisingly resilient 2012 when their performance markedly outshone the economy as a whole. Indeed, car sales rose 5.3% overall in 2012 compared with only flat GDP.”
February is traditionally the lowest month for car sales of the year because it comes just before the new registration plates are released in March.
The Ford Focus was the best-selling car in February, selling 3,853 cars in the month.
SMMT interim chief executive, Mike Baunton, said: "UK new car registrations have risen every month for the last year with February continuing the trend, growing 7.9% year-on-year boosted by the highest increase in private consumer demand since spring 2010."
"Attractive new car deals are sustaining the market. "New models are delivering ever greater fuel efficiency, practicality, refinement, technology and predictable ownership costs, so motorists are seeing the benefit of new car purchases."
Save money on your gas and electricity bills
Compare all energy prices with uSwitch and save up to £400.
Twitter: My Finances
Join the conversation at #news_myfinances