The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market saw its first month of growth in July since January, with a 7.1% increase in registrations, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). In total, 27,701 new LCVs were sold.

Growth was particularly pronounced in medium-sized vans weighing greater than 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes, which saw a 12% increase in registrations, and pick-ups, where dealers recorded a 24.9% increase. The only fall was in the light van (less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes) sector where registrations dropped by 22%. Heavy vans made up the lion's share of overall sales, with 17,566 registrations, an increase of 5.4%.

Meanwhile, there was a substantial 78.1% increase in 4x4 demand, but this class of vehicle represents a very small fraction of total LCV registrations.

The improvement comes against a backdrop of prolonged reduced demand, with overall LCV registrations down by 39% year to date. The latest SMMT Outlook estimates that around 270,000 will be registered by the end of the year, a drop of 26.3%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "With lockdown restrictions rolling back and businesses restarting operations, the van market is beginning to look more positive. Growth is likely to have been driven by pent up demand and the re-emergence of sectors such as construction.

"However, these green shoots of recovery could prove fragile given the uncertain economic situation. With new technology coming to the market and the need for operators to renew their fleets, maintaining overall business confidence will be crucial."