New car registrations in the UK fell at the fastest annual pace in five years in February as demand from both private and business sectors faltered, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told Reuters on Friday.

Total new car registrations fell 15.7% year on year last month to 77,092 compared with a decline of 8.2% in the prior month, the report.

Reuters said the SMMT attributed the fall partly to a seasonal factor as February is normally a quiet month for new car sales.

"February is traditionally a low volume month leading up to the plate change in March. Small volume changes can lead to large percentage differences," the report said.

Since the introduction of the twice-yearly plate change [on March 1 and September 1], February has accounted for an average of just 3.5% of the annual market, Reuters noted.

The group reportedly expects some improvement in March, predicting that car registrations will fall by 6% on the year in the month.

Reuters said all three areas of the market - private, fleet, and business - reported slow business in February, with the decline most pronounced in the business sector.

In the private sector, which accounts for some 39% of the market, demand fell by 23% year on year, the report noted.