With tight incomes, the first things that families tend to cut back on are the more luxury items. Extensions to houses are delayed, interior refurbishments are put off and the old car that was going to be traded in becomes something you can live with for another few years.
Car sales have been adversely affected during the recession, but data for May 2012 show a positive turn. Manufacturers have said that car sales are up by 7.9% compared with May last year. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMTT), much of the increased demand has come from private sales, where the increase has been over 14%.
This data may not be the answer to the economic troubles, but it is perhaps an indication that confidence is beginning to return. However, should things go from bad to worse in the eurozone, it isn’t hard to see data for the coming months showing the opposite trend. One other key piece of information to take from this data is the growth in the sales of lower-emissions vehicles. Sales of these were up 31.8% in May 2012 compared to the same time last year. Jonathan Visscher from SMMT said:
‘The green sector is growing fast…Every car manufacturer is going to have a hybrid model on its lists by the end of this year, even Ferrari.’
The continuing upward trend in car sales is by no means guaranteed to continue, especially with things like the expected rise in fuel duty later this year and the ongoing crisis in the eurozone, with Spanish banks potentially looking for help via a bail-out in the not too distant future. The following articles consider the acceleration in car sales.
UK sees biggest annual rise in car sales for nearly 2 years Reuters (8/6/12)
New car sales accelerate ahead Press Association (8/6/12)
UK new car sales accelerated in May, say manufacturers BBC News (8/6/12)
New car sales accelerate ahead Independent, Peter Woodman (8/6/12)
Car registrations accelerate in May Financial Times, John Reed (8/6/12)
- How would you define a luxury good? What is the relationship with income?
- How could an increase in car sales benefit the economy? How could the multiplier effect have an impact?
- Which factors have contributed towards the growth in low-emissions cars?
- Sales of low-emissions cars have significantly increased. However, why is this increase
- What are some of the key things that can help to bring a recession to an end? Into which general category would you place this increase in car sales?
- Fuel duty is expected to rise later this year. How might this affect the number of new car registrations? What does your answer tell you about the cross elasticity of demand?