POTENTIAL buyers are taking their time this year as they grapple to balance the need for a new car with soaring property and tax bills.
It is early days but there is enough evidence to suggest that footfall in many dealerships is down on this time last year.
By the same token, some are quite busy but most experts and insiders would now concur that no more than 75,000 new cars will be registered this year.
That would be around 5,000 down on last year and a further erosion of business in an industry that has suffered some heavy knocks of late.
Early sales figures, in which some marques are claiming huge increases in sales, do not paint the real picture at all.
Comparisons with last year are on a far too distorted and small scale to be of any relevance.
It will take until the end of this month for a truer picture of purchases to emerge.
Maybe it is because the new 131 registration catches the eye, but there does seem to be quite a few already out on the roads. Many of these would have been ordered towards the back end of last year.
It will also be interesting to see if the industry will put on a big mid-summer push for 132 sales (from July) if registrations fall behind the trend towards a 75,000 target for the year.
Another trend to be watched closely this year will be the phenomenon of pre-registering cars to bolster market share.
These cars are then sold, with minimal mileage, as 'newsed' vehicles at a discounted price.