UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations rose for the third consecutive month in November, up 8.8% in the month, new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggest.
It says that the sector has been responding to growing demand as businesses have scaled up online delivery operations through the pandemic.
Registrations of small vans weighing less than or equal to 2 tonnes and medium vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes rose by 13.7% and 13.6% respectively.
Demand for larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes saw the largest growth, up 25.2%, while 4x4s and pickups saw a decrease in registrations, down -0.7% and -56.2% respectively.
Meanwhile, demand for battery electric and plug-in hybrid LCVs continued to grow, up 79.7% compared with November last year.
Though still a small portion of the overall van market, where key considerations remain payload and range, alternatively fuelled vans have doubled their share of the market to 1.9% of all LCV registrations in the year to date.
Although an increase in ecommerce is helping van demand grow, performance in the year to date is still behind last year’s relatively weak numbers, down -21.5% or almost 73,000 units short on LCV registrations in the first 11 months of 2019.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Growth in new van registrations, even through November’s lockdown, is welcome during these turbulent times but it’s important not to assume a long trend just yet.
“As regions emerge from lockdown for the final month of 2020, it’s vital that this growth translates into longer term investment in fleet renewal for the sector to help drive the economy towards recovery.”
Analysts expect online sales to overtake spending in physical stores for the first time this year, as the country prepares for a Covid Christmas.
Last year, £25.4 billion was spent online and £53.1bn in stores, but, this Christmas, research suggests the situation will be reversed.
Based on forecasts by parcel delivery network ParcelHero of a similar overall spend to last Christmas, online shopping will rise to a record-breaking £39.4bn, while high street spend would fall to £39.1bn.