UK light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations ended 2020 down 20.0% year on year to 292,657 units.

The van market declined in December following three months of growth spurred by home delivery growth, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Registrations last month dropped 1% to 27,283, though that was in line with previous Decembers.

Throughout the year the LCV market responded to fluctuating demand, flexing to adjust as lockdown measures affected consumer behaviour and business operations, the SMMT said.

The first sub-300,000 unit LCV year since 2013 delivered a shortfall of over 73,000 units with a cost to the sector of GBP2bn in retail value.

Despite the sector stepping up to meet demand brought about by the rise of online shopping and corresponding deliveries, the effect of the pandemic on businesses, and thus the wider economy, has overall subdued demand, shrinking the van market by a fifth in 2020.

All van segments saw a decrease last year with small vans weighing two tonnes or less down 34.4%, medium vans 2.0-2.5 tonnes down 15.6% and larger vans 2.5-3.5 tonnes-plus down 16.5%. Demand for new pickups and 4x4s fell by 32.7% and 10.6% respectively.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “It’s been a truly extraordinary and testing year for the commercial vehicle sector. Manufacturers and operators alike have adapted to multiple unpredictable challenges. Undeniably, the LCV market, having shrunk by a fifth, has a lot of hurdles to overcome as we enter 2021. However, investment in fleet renewal will be key to driving recovery, and the sector’s resilience, now coupled with added clarity over UK-EU trading relations and the rollout of vaccines, offers hope for both the van market and the wider economy.”