Sales in what is traditionally the busiest month for sales of new cars because of the change in registration stood at 505,312. That is down from the record 525,539 notched up last August.
However, sales overall this year are still running well ahead of last. The total so far for the year is 1,680,100, up 3.8 per cent from 1997 when 1,6161,323 had been sold at this stage of the year.
Nevertheless, the fact that sales are off their peak is more evidence that consumer confidence is starting to fall again.
Richard Barnett at the SMMT said that he believed some buyers were holding off until new models - including the new Rover and a baby Jaguar - have been unveiled for the United Kingdom.