July 5, 2018 / 11:24 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Car sales growth slows in Russia during soccer World Cup

(Adds quotes, details, analyst comment)

MOSCOW, July 5 (Reuters) - Growth in new car sales in Russia slowed to 10.8 percent in June from 18 percent in May, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) lobby group said on Thursday, with analysts blaming the country’s hosting of the soccer World Cup for the dip in demand.

The tournament runs from June 14 to July 15 and is taking place in 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.

“Demand during the championship is somewhat lower: attention of many potential car buyers is diverted towards football,” said Sergey Udalov, executive director at consultancy Autostat.

The AEB said 156,351 new cars and light commercial vehicles were sold in Russia in June, compared with 141,090 a year earlier.

“Still, nearly 11 percent year-on-year improvement is a very respectable result,” Joerg Schreiber, Chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, said in a statement.

“All in all, the first half of 2018 has been successful for the Russian car market, and there is good reason to believe that the positive momentum will continue in the coming months,” he added.

The AEB said first-half sales increased 18.2 percent year on year to 849,221 cars.

Carmakers, dealers and analysts expect Russia’s plan to raise value-added tax will result in higher prices and hit demand and sales, although there could be a temporary increase in sales ahead of the tax hike in 2019. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Mark Potter)

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