PARIS -- Registrations in France fell by 72 percent in March, as dealerships closed their doors by government order in the middle of the month to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
There were 62,688 registrations in March, industry group CCFA said on Wednesday, with 22 selling days, compared to 21 in March 2019.
The French government put in place strict limits on movement and commerce across the country on March 16, including on dealerships, effectively ending auto sales. Even before that, residents had been advised to work from home and avoid unnecessary travel and contacts.
Other countries with coronavirus limitations are likely to see similar declines. Sales in China in February fell by 80 percent, for example. The lockdown in France has been extended until April 15.
For the year, sales are down by 34 percent. Analysts are predicting that sales in Europe will drop up to 20 percent for 2020, depending on how long lockdowns last and whether governments put scrapping incentive plans in place to drive demand.