The scorching weather across Europe this summer is being blamed for a fall-off in auto purchases.

Car sales across continental Europe slipped 5.5% year-on-year in August, according to the Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles. Worst hit was France (–15.4%) and Italy (–10.5%).

Analysts blamed the heatwave, pointing out that people are less likely to visit a car showroom during hot weather. However, ACEA played down the decline: “August is typically a slow and volatile sales month because many people are on holiday, and so any falloff tends to have a disproportionately high effect in terms of percentage change.”

For the first eight months of 2003, sales dipped 2.7% year-on-year to 8.01 million.

But despite the slowdown in continental Europe, showrooms in the UK reported brisker business. According to ACEA, British sales increased 2.4% in August and rose marginally to 1.633m over the first eight months of the year.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff