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COVID hits ACT hard other states remain buoyant

Lockdowns: NSW sales just as strong during lockdowns as WA with its hard border


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6 Jan 2022

NEW vehicle sales leapt back above the one-million mark in calendar 2021 on surging demand for personal transport, a rise in the need for commercial vehicles including vans and utes, and a string of new product launches.


Despite the tethers from production issues causing supply delays (mainly the global shortage of semiconductors) and erratic lockdowns that thwarted new-car buyers from visiting dealerships, the market was up 14.5 per cent on 2020 with almost 1.05 million sales.


Around the nation it was clear that the effects of COVID hit some states and territories worse than others.


One feature was the strength of the NSW market during its roller-coaster lockdown periods that made little difference to new-vehicle sales – a product of the adaptability of dealerships and the resilience of their customers.


Though WA, which maintained a hard border, was in positive territory for the year showing sales increases up to 50 per cent better in some months than those in 2020, it was not significantly better than NSW.


Outside of these two, the ACT showed the biggest hit with only one month of 2021 showing a gain on the previous year’s corresponding month. That was January when sales were up 16.6 per cent on the same month in 2020.


The rest of the year showed the ACT was the only place in the nation where sales fell every month compared with 2020, in March by 31.2 per cent and averaging a negative 20.7 per cent for the remaining months.


But though it’s easy for the other states to feel smug, the reality is that December was a shocker around the country with all areas posting negatives over 2020.


Tasmania scored well though the year with an 18.4 per cent boost to sales in 2021 over 2020 as its island placement and COVID policy deterred the spread of the virus.


But it all went pear-shaped in December when an unexpected lockdown kept buyers indoors and Tassie car sales slumped 26.6 per cent for the month (compared with December 2020).


Other states to have a particularly bad December were South Australia (also hit by lockdowns late in the year) which was down 21.2 per cent; and Victoria with a 19.4 per cent sales retraction.


Overall, the country had an average of a negative 18.0 per cent result for new-vehicle sales in December compared with 2020.


It should be noted that Western Australia, which for the most has been barely affected by lockdowns because of a strict no-go policy, was not exempt from the December malaise.


Though WA showed an 18.7 per cent sales gain for the 12 months compared with 2020, its December result was in line with other areas and showed a 15.5 per cent fall. This was the smallest of the declines but it can’t be prettied up – a negative is still a negative.


2021 Top vehicle sales by state:

State Units sold Variance
New South Wales 328,185 +8.6%
Victoria 272,733 +20.4%
Queensland 229,775 +17.4%
Western Australia 106.134 +18.7%
South Australia 68,605 +14.2%
Tasmania 18,564 +18.4%
Australian Capital Territory 16,002 -18.7%
Northern Territory 9,833 +27.2%

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