'World Cup fever' combined with "some of the best retail conditions in months" has boosted the number of UK consumers considering a new car by almost 11% since the start of June, claims the independent car price monitor CarPriceCheck.

Franchised dealers, importers, car supermarkets and Internet retailers have all reported a marked upturn in consumer traffic as football fever continues to grip the nation, CarPriceCheck said today.

CarPriceCheck data shows that the number of consumer's looking to buy within the next four weeks has more than doubled in June compared to the same period in June 2001.

England and Ireland's games have so far taken place on the retail motor industry's traditionally busy days of the week (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), that has failed to deter consumers.

The feel-good factor has also been buoyed by the macro-economic conditions affecting the new car industry at present. Sales across Europe are down 2.6% year to date, and so the UK's position as the second largest market behind Germany has made it the focus of heavy promotional activity by manufacturers eager to capitalise on the continued confidence in the retail sector.

"Aided by low interest rates, the carrot of bank busting finance packages - coupled with an ever increasing pool of cheap European imports already sitting on forecourts - has helped create ideal buying conditions," said CarPriceCheck chief executive Steve Evans.

"Showrooms had been seasonally quiet during April and May and, despite fears that sales would slow given the timing of key matches, the opening weeks of the World Cup have looked encouraging.

"Indeed, for those looking and signalling an intent to buy, suppliers are only too keen to offer enticing deals to make sure they don't disappear back in front of the television too quickly."

Although list prices have increased by 2.6% year on year according to industry analysts CAP Monitor, CarPriceCheck says actual transaction prices have fallen marginally by 1.14% between January and May 2002, an encouragement for UK suppliers increasingly competing with unofficial 'parallel importers'.