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Britain, a nation of Shopkeepers? 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 05th May 2017 14:22:11 GMT

London Mews traffic 2016

Open quote signClearly, the idea of Britain as a nation of shopkeepers is no longer true. However, more appropriate today, particularly when seen with the eyes of the UKís continental neighbours, the UK has become a nation driven increasingly by automotive badge snobbery.

Spare a thought for the unfortunate French folks living and working in or around Calais and Dunkirk. 

A fair chunk of them have faced chronic unemployment. 

If opinion polls are to be believed, this coming Sunday many will likely be voting for Marine Le Penís Front National. 

This Nord-Pas de Calais-Picardie region in the very north of France, during the holiday season, will also be buzzing with British motorists on their way to second homes or holiday cottages in the warmer climes of continental Europe. 

Each tunnel trainload or car-ferry arriving in Northern France will to an extent mirror the UKís car sales mix. French folks in this economically hard struck region of northern France can be forgiven for believing that Britainís roads are paved with gold.

While French locals in northern France are likely conducting their daily business with comparatively time-worn small cars, the UK registered cars driving off channel trains or ferries, contain a large proportion of pricey models from Germanyís prestige car makers. 

Average French motorists driving their paint-faded Renault Clios might quite easily believe that todayís UK consumers must rank among the most affluent in Europe. 

Far fetched?

Clearly, the story is told by yesterdayís UK car sales figures. 

This April, only Ford - the traditional UK market leader - sold more cars in the UK than Mercedes. 

Excluding Smart, the Mercedes car brand alone took 8.8 per cent of the UKís April car market. 

Moreover, Mercedes comfortably outsold mass market brands like Volkswagen and Opel-Vauxhall. 

But thatís not all.

Apart from leading Ford, all of the UKís other mass market carmakers were also outsold by Audi. 

This April Audi came within 251 units of matching Mercedes. 

A near enough clean sweep: Germanyís global prestige sector-dominating Mercedes, Audi and BMW scooped three of the top four positions in the UKís April car market. 

All three racked up five-figure unit totals. 

A reflection of what some call todayís UK automotive snob culture: Aprilís car sales share going to these three premium brands alone reached 24.8 per cent. 

By the time Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche and Lexus are added to the score, the UKís April sales share going to prestige brands hit 30 per cent. 

On the snob-scale, even Switzerland, renowned for its sky-high per capita income, this April was outperformed by the UK. 

This April, prestige-sector cars accounted for just one-in-four of the cars sold in Switzerland. 

'treasure island'

As any UK visitor will discover, the streets of London are certainly not paved with gold. And yet, for Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche, the UKís long run as a 'treasure island' for automotive profits is probably as true today as ever
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