The light van market up to 3.5 tonnes saw a small -1.0% decline in December, according to the latest SMMT’s light commercial vehicle registration figures.

December is always a turbulent month for LCV registrations with private and self-employed buyers holding back to have their van registered in the new year to protect residual values, therefore a decline of just -1% was not unexpected.

Overall, the 2020 full-year results show a total decline of -20% due to both dealership and factory closures for around four months in total due to COVID-19. The overall modest decline of -1% in December shows the light commercial market was not affected by the continued growth over the last quarter of a very challenging year.

Demand for further online deliveries bolstered sales and registrations of the heavy LCVs weighing more than 2.5 – 3.5 tonnes

showing an increase of 7.3%, with 1,300 units more than the previous year. This heavy vehicle group up to 3.5 tonnes is the largest sector representing around 60% of all LCVs sold.

Demand for lower capacity light commercials was down across all sectors indicating the reluctance of semi-retail and self-employed to invest in new vehicles at a challenging time for their businesses.

A further potential factor that slowed the market was the fact that orders for new vehicles not in the UK could have been affected by EU tariffs had a free-trade deal not been agreed at the end of December.

Following the overall decline in the van market in 2020 and despite the January lockdown that will cause some disruption, with greater reliance on local deliveries and services, and a tariff-free deal with Europe, dealers are more optimistic about 2021.