Annual UK sales of LCVs fell by 3.6% in 2017, the first time the market has declined since 2012.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 362,149 new vans and pick-ups were registered.

The market for small vans weighing less than 2.0-tonnes showed a steep decline, with registrations falling by 20.3% to 29,407 units, and the crucial market for medium and large vans, weighing from 2.5- to-3.5 tonnes, fell, by 3.1% to 225,837.

However, there was better news for pick-ups, which saw a 7.8% increase to 51,415 sales, and light vans weighing 2.0- to 2.5-tonnes, which saw a 2.3% increase to 55,047.

Although the overall 2017 figures showed a decline, the year ended on a more positive note with LCV registrations in December increasing by 2.9% to 28,016.

This included a 6% rise for pick-ups, a 7.5% rise for 2.5- to 3.5-tonne vans, a 5.7% drop for 2.0- to 2.5-tonne vans, and a 20.4% fall for vans under 2.0-tonnes.

Despite the decline in the overall sales figures for 2017, the SMMT pointed out LCV registrations were still the third highest in a decade.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “While the market has slowed in 2017, this was in line with expectations and demand remains at a high level.

“In fact, LCV registrations have increased 62.5% since 2010.

“For 2018, however, we expect the economic and political uncertainty to continue to affect the market so government must rebuild business confidence and encourage operators to invest in new vehicles given fleet renewal is the fastest way to reduce overall emissions.”

Among LCV manufacturers, it was a good year for the likes of Toyota, which saw registrations rise by 27.18%.

Other manufacturers to record rises included Mitsubishi (20.23%), Peugeot (9.01%), Fiat Professional (6.41%), and Mercedes-Benz (5.81%).

Trending the other way, there were falls in registrations for manufacturers including Iveco (28.21%), Vauxhall (24.81%), Renault (23.97%), and Volkswagen (8.56%).

Market leader Ford saw a 1.97% increase in annual registrations, taking the total to 117,831 – nearly three times as many as second-placed VW, with 41,474.

The Ford Transit Custom was by far the year’s best selling van, with 51,885 registrations, ahead of its Ford Transit sibling on 27,062, and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with 23,588.