UK new car sales rise around 11% in key selling month of March

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FILE PHOTO: New cars are seen waiting for transport at the docks in Grimsby

LONDON (Reuters) - British new car registrations rose by around 11% on an annual basis in March, usually one of the two top selling months of the year, according to preliminary industry data released on Tuesday.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said registrations rose 11% compared with the first month of last year's lockdown, but they were still down around 37% below the average for 2010-2019.

March is one of two annual occasions when the licence plate series changes, spurring demand.

Many dealers have been using "click and collect" and delivery services to continue to operate as showrooms remain closed to the public.

In England, they are due to reopen from April 12, alongside other nonessential retail outlets.

The SMMT will publish final figures for the month at 0900 local time on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas in London; Editing by Matthew Lewis)