The UK van market shrank 24.8% year on year in June 2020 but that was a big improvement on last month's 74.1% fall as businesses slowly emerge from lockdown.

A total of 30,041 vans and pickups were registered in June, about 10,000 down on the June 2019 tally, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Year to date sales fell 44.6% to 108,876 units.

"This is an improvement but betrays weak demand given the sector was effectively shuttered for nearly three months," the SMMT said, adding "uncertainty kept operator confidence subdued".

Demand for smaller vans weighing two tonnes or under dropped 49.4% while registrations of medium sized vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes and larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes also fell, down 19.1% and 22.8% respectively.

Demand for pickups continued to decline, with registrations down 26.9%.

Elsewhere, 4x4s saw 1.1% growth despite tough economic conditions, as more high-tech, ultra efficient new models joined the market.

Registrations of light commercial vehicles saw negative growth for five of the six first months of the year and all segments experienced a double digit decline in the first half of the year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "Although we are seeing a gradual improvement in demand as the UK starts to get back to business, we are still a long way off normal. The pandemic has stalled all but a few essential businesses, and those restarting now are doing so at reduced pace to ensure safety of their employees and in response to a cautious buyer appetite.

"Restart has been slow, while more uncertainty lies ahead as the UK grapples with business nervousness and potential regional lockdown measures. The industry will do all it can to attract buyers but restoring operator confidence remains the vital next step. A successful restart for the sector will be critical to fleet renewal – and the UK's long-term green recovery – given the crucial role light commercial vehicles play in urban areas."