The automotive industry has recorded this year’s first monthly increase in sales, following the reopening of dealerships.
Some 174,887 cars were registered in July, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
This is up 11.3% compared with the same month in 2019.
July was the first time dealerships across the UK were open for a full month since February, due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The SMMT said pent-up demand and special offers led to “a reprieve for the sector”.
But despite the monthly increase, registrations for the first seven months of the year are down 41.9%.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “July’s figures are positive, with a boost from demand pent up from earlier in the year and some attractive offers meaning there are some very good deals to be had.
“We must be cautious, however, as showrooms have only just fully reopened nationwide and there is still much uncertainty about the future.
“By the end of September, we should have a clearer picture of whether or not this is a long-term trend.
“Although this month’s figures provide hope, the market remains fragile in the face of possible future spikes and localised lockdowns as well as, sadly, probable job losses across the economy.
“The next few weeks will be crucial in showing whether or not we are on the road to recovery.”
Rachael Prasher, managing director of automotive magazine and website What Car?, said: “This is very welcome news to the UK’s automotive sector and a testament to all the hard work put in to kickstart the industry by dealers and manufacturers as lockdown eased.
“After nearly three months of closed doors, it is great that the industry has demonstrated it remains so robust.
“However, with this month’s success driven largely as a result of pent-up demand and lease cycles, there is still much hard work to do ahead.”