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Number of car buyers at three-year high

Consumers are getting more confident about committing to car-buying, according to a survey today.

Would-be purchasers are prepared to spend a total of £51 billion on new or used cars over the next six months, the poll by Sainsbury's Finance showed.

This is the first time since September 2007 that potential spending has topped the £50 billion mark for a six-month period.

Also at a three-year high is the number of people - 17% - who plan to change their car in the next six months.

This compares with a figure of just 11% who said they intended to buy a new or used car in the period September 2009 to February 2010.

Consumers in south east England are forking out the most - planning to spend £11.2 billion on a change of car in the next six months.

This is a 5% increase on the amount consumers from this area intended to spend in the period March-August 2010.

In contrast, people in Yorkshire and Humberside only intend to spend £1.8 billion on a new or used car over the next six months, with East Anglia consumers also only planning to commit £1.8 billion.

The area with the biggest rise in those looking to change their motor is the East Midlands, with a 12% increase in the next six months compared with the period March-August this year.

A total of 1,994 adults were involved in the survey.

Sainsbury's Finance head of loans Steven Baillie said: We've been conducting our car-buying index for the past seven years and our findings would indicate that the numbers looking to purchase a car are certainly starting to pick up again.

"We have also recorded an increase in the number planning to buy a brand new car, which is good news for the car industry as a whole as it would suggest that the end of the car scrappage scheme has not led to the feared drop-off in the number of customers wanting to buy a new car."

"Another factor that could be helping to fuel an expected rise in 2010 car sales is the planned rise in VAT, due to come into force in January 2011. This could see buyers bring their car purchases forward to beat the rise."