Renault and Citroën hit as car sales plunge

There was more bad economic news for France on Monday, as new figures showed sales of new cars have plunged. To make matters worse, iconic French carmarkers Renault and Citroën were worst affected.

Renault and Citroën hit as car sales plunge
Sales of new cars have plunged in France. Worst hit were iconic French carmakers Renault and Citroen. File photo: Emilio Labrador

New car registrations in France, a key indicator of economic health, dropped sharply in May according to new data published on Monday, with Renault and Citroën the worst affected.

A total of 148,554 new cars were registered in France last month, a 10.3-percent drop compared to the same period in 2012, according to statistics published by France's industry group for auto makers, CCFA.

The Renault group plunged by 16.5 percent while Citroën also dropped sharply, by 14.5 percent.

Overall, French models appeared worse hit than foreign makes, with domestic brands down 12.1 percent compared to 8.4 percent for manufacturers with bases outside France.

2013 has not started well for the French car market, with CCFA figures showing a 12-percent decline in new car registrations between January and May on weak European demand.

France, Europe's second-largest economy, slipped into recession in the first quarter of the year, according to national statistics published last month.

In March, the unemployment level hit a 16-year high, reaching 3.2 million or 10.6 percent.

Crippled by a three-year debt crisis, the wider eurozone posted its sixth straight quarter of economic contraction with even powerhouse Germany grinding to a halt.

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France extends its winter sales as shops struggle with impact of 6pm curfew

France has extended its winter sales period by two weeks after a request from shops struggling with the loss of revenue due to the 6pm curfew.

France extends its winter sales as shops struggle with impact of 6pm curfew
Photo: AFP

The winter sales – pushed from their original start date at the beginning of January – had been due to end on Tuesday, February 16th.

However the French finance ministry has announced the extension of the sales period until March 2nd.

The decision “compensates for the impact of the 6pm curfew by allowing customers to spread out their purchases” and comes after a request from retailers, such a spokesman.

Retailers have reported the sales have been much less busy than usual as customers opt to avoid crowded places.

Also impacting on stores is the closure, from January 31st, of shopping centres and department stores more than 20,000 square metres and the 6pm curfew, which has curtailed the usually busy evening shopping period.

Sales in France are strictly regulated and the summer and winter sales take place on dates set by the government.