May 5, 2020 / 6:40 AM / in 24 days

UK new car sales fall to lowest level since 1946

LONDON (Reuters) - British new car sales slumped by around 97% in April to the lowest level of any month since February 1946 with factories and dealerships shut due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to preliminary data from an industry body.

Lockdown measures have been in place across Europe since mid-March to contain the pandemic, leading to the closure of many businesses and limiting people’s movements.

In February 1946, just a few months after the end of World War Two, just 4,044 new cars were sold in Britain, which was still undergoing rationing and trying to rebuild after wartime destruction, under its first majority Labour government.

Last month, around 4,000 cars were registered with most of the sales being fleet purchases, according to preliminary data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It further downgraded its full-year forecast to 1.68 million registrations compared with last year’s total of 2.31 million cars.

The SMMT will publish its final figures at 0800 GMT on Tuesday.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

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