New car registrations in Waterford City during July were down almost 80 per cent when compared to the figures recorded for the same month last year.

The latest car registration figures issued by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) reveal that city dealerships had a combined sales figure of 57 for new cars during July.

The corresponding tally in July 2008 came to 272, representing a 79.04 per cent decline, ahead of the national average which stands at 77.06 per cent.

The news was equally bad across County Waterford’s forecourts last month, with 36 new car registrations recorded – a decline of 78.57 per cent (168 registrations) on the July ’08 tally.

Across the region, the news was even worse in Wexford (75 registrations, down 82.95 per cent) and South Tipperary (48 registrations, down 84.95 per cent).

And despite registering 229 fewer new cars than in July ’08, the news wasn’t as bad in Kilkenny, which suffered a 75.58 per cent decline (74 registrations).

“While new car registrations are 77 per cent down for the month of July, this fall in sales in not as dramatic as it may appear,” said the SIMI’s Brian Cooke.

“The extent of the reduction in sales can be attributed to the introduction of the Government’s C02 based VRT changes in July ‘08.”

Mr Cooke added: “This resulted in many consumers holding off on their 2008 new car purchase until after the changes were introduced, resulting in a significant increase in new car registrations in July of last year as consumers benefited from the savings that followed the VRT and Road Tax changes.

“Therefore, taking this unusual increase in July 2008 into account, the trend is in line with our forecast for the month of July.”

Brian Cooke said that there had been a notable increase in used car activity in dealerships, reflecting “the value available in today’s marketplace”.

However, the lack of finance availability remains “a major cause for concern and frustration for our members” in Mr Cooke’s view.

“Although the banks continue to advertise credit availability, the reality, in our many of our members’ experience, is proving quite different.

“Resolution of this issue, with the extension of finance to credit-worthy customers is a key factor in the recovery of our industry.”