Registrations of new vans in the UK declined in March for the first time in five years, figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders have shown.

According to the SMMT’s statistics, 63,316 new LCVs were registered during the month, 0.9% down on March 2016’s figures.

The largest volume sector – which consists of vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5t – grew by 3.6% to 40,237 units, while registrations of pick-ups also increased, by 23.0% to 9,660 units.

All other areas of the market experienced a fall in March, with registrations of light vans weighing between 2.0-2.5t experiencing the smallest change – down 4.0% to 8,496 units.

Demand for vans weighing less than 2.0t plummeted during the plate-change month, with registrations falling by 31.6% to 4,804 LCVs, while the niche 4×4 sector recorded a 91.1% fall, with just 119 vans finding homes during the month.

The Ford Transit Custom topped the sales charts, on 10,381 units, followed by the Volkswagen Transporter (4,345) and Ford Transit (4,011).

“The new van market has experienced strong levels of demand in recent years and this dip in registrations represents a natural rebalancing of the market. Despite the decline, demand remains at an historically high level with year-to-date registrations matching 2015’s performance, which was only exceeded by demand in 2016. We expect demand to remain stable at this high level throughout the year,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.