Demand for new cars fell by 27.4% last month, new figures show.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said just 113,781 new registrations were recorded in the UK last month, nearly 43,000 fewer than during November 2019.
Trade has not been this poor since the 2008 recession.
Showrooms across England were forced to close for most of November due to the national coronavirus lockdown, but click and collect orders were processed.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Compared with the spring lockdown, manufacturers, dealers and consumers were all better prepared to adjust to constrained trading conditions.
“But with £1.3 billion worth of new car revenue lost in November alone, the importance of showroom trading to the UK economy is evident and we must ensure they remain open in any future Covid restrictions.
“More positively, with a vaccine now approved, the business and consumer confidence on which this sector depends can only improve, giving the industry more optimism for the turn of the year.”
Private demand fell by 32.2% last month, while the number of new cars added to larger fleets was down 22.1%.
Sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars continued to buck the overall trend, with rises across the UK of 122.4% and 76.9% respectively.
Total registrations during the first 11 months of the year were down 30.7% compared with the same period in 2019.
James Fairclough, chief executive of AA Cars, said: “England’s November lockdown unsurprisingly knocked new car sales into reverse, with sales across the UK sliding by 27.4% compared to the same time last year.
“As England unlocks once again, the industry will be keen to reset and rebound in December, with dealers likely to fight hard for sales in the run-up to Christmas in an effort to recoup some of the earnings lost during 2020.”