A fall in business confidence triggered a 7.4% year-on-year slump in new light commercial vehicle registrations to 24,968 units in October, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In the year to the end of October, sales were down 3.5% compared to the same period in 2016, with 307,647 LCVs joining the UK’s roads.

Demand for pick-ups, which has bucked the downward trend all year, remained stable – up 0.5%  in October to 3,567, but it was a different story across the other market sectors.

Sales of small vans weighing less than 2.0-tonnes tumbled 20.2% to 1,821 last month while volumes of light vans in the 2.0-2.5-tonne bracket dropped 14.6% to 3,902 units.

Sales in the crucial 2.5-3.5-tonne van segment fell 5.2% to 15,658 in October.

At the other extreme, registrations in the niche 4×4 sector plummeted 47.4% to just 20 units.

In the year-to-date pick-up volumes fared best – 10.1 % ahead of the first 10 months of 2016 while sales of vans weighing between 2.0 and 2.5-tonnes were up 4.3%.

Registrations in the 2.5-3.5-tonne, sub-2.0-tonne and 4×4 segments all fell, however.

Due to the pressure of political and economic instability, the SMMT now expects the 2017 LCV market to decline by 2.8% compared to last year’s total of 375,687 units.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Following the recent revision to the new van forecast, this month’s decline is not unexpected. While the market remains at a high level, the recent decline in business confidence, caused by economic and political uncertainty, is now having an impact on van registrations. Government must therefore address these concerns and create the conditions necessary for the market to prosper.”