LONDON (AP) -- New car sales in Britain were down 30.5 percent in March, typically a strong period of the year for sales, the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders said Monday.
Sales in March, which has been the largest volume month in six of the past 10 years, totaled 313,912 units compared with 451,642 in March 2008, the group said.
Private sales fell 28.6 percent, fleet sales were down 30.2 percent and business sales fell 44.7 percent, the SMMT said.
March typically accounts for 18 percent of new car sales; last year it posted a 21 percent share.
For the first quarter of 2009, sales were 29.7 lower than a year ago.
The Ford Fiesta was the top-selling car in March at 20,654 units, ahead of the Vauxhall Corsa at 14,993 units.
"March new car registrations are a barometer of confidence in the economy, from businesses and consumers alike. The fall in the market shows that government needs to do more to boost confidence," said Paul Everitt, the society's chief executive.
"A scrappage scheme will provide the incentive needed and the evidence is clear that schemes already implemented across Europe do work to increase demand," he added.