New vehicle sales were disappointing. File Photo: IOL

PRETORIA – New car and light commercial vehicles sales were disappointing and below forecast last month, suggesting consumers were coming under intensified pressure. 

Figures released on Monday revealed that sales of new cars declined last month by 2.2 percent to 31 447 units from the 32 169 units sold in August last year. 

Sales of new light commercial vehicles, bakkies and minibuses dropped last month by 5.8 percent to 13 956 units from the 14 822 unit sales achieved in August last year. 

Azar Jammine, the chief economist at Econometrix, said the car and light commercial vehicle 
sales last month were on the soft side and implied consumers were really coming under pressure and the economy was “going backwards”. 

Jammine said these sales were not dramatically below forecast, but weaker than one would have hoped. He said it was possible a favourable gross domestic product GDP growth would be released on Tuesday but believed the third quarter would now be weaker than anticipated. 

“I think the nervousness around land expropriation without compensation has resulted in people starting to lose hope at the moment and more and more people are getting afraid of losing their jobs as well,” he said. 

Jammine added that unlike on previous occasions when there was pre-emptive car buying when the value of the rand depreciated, there was now no more buying left in consumers. 

“I think people have just been pulling back and not spending,” he said. In contrast to the light vehicle market, sales of medium commercial vehicles and heavy trucks and buses improved for the second consecutive month. 

Medium commercial vehicle sales increased last month by 9.3 percent to 702 units year-on-year while heavy truck and bus sales rose by 18.8 percent to 1 859 units. 

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- BUSINESS REPORT