Published Wednesday, 09 May 2012
Clinton Cards has become the latest casualty of the high street spending slump (© PA)
According to the latest registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, almost 200 fewer cars were sold in Northern Ireland in April compared to the same period last year.
It represented a 5% drop at a time when sales in the rest of the UK were picking up - with a 7% increase in Wales, almost 5% in Scotland and 3% in England.
Meanwhile Clinton Cards entered administration on Wednesday, putting several hundred full and part-time jobs in Northern Ireland - at both its stores and those of its sister chain Birthdays - at risk.
While the administrators say they're confident of attracting would be buyers, they're already warning it's likely some stores will have to close across the UK. In the meantime though, stores are remaining open.
Northern Bank Chief Economist Angela McGowan said it's all a reflection of local consumer sentiment.
"Households are not feeling that confident to spend on big ticket items like cars or holidays and will pull back when they feel a bit of pressure on their domestic income," she said.
Ms McGowan added that, with little economic growth expected this year, it could be some time before consumer confidence is regained.
She continued: "It is probably going to take time to build up that confidence depending on how people feel in terms of their income and how secure they feel in their jobs and for that we need suitable economic growth.
"This year it is pretty low so we would expect to see people quite reluctant to spend for quite some time."
© UTV News