September Sales Pace Slows, but Still on Track


Market Watch

The Sep­tem­ber monthly sales fore­cast devel­oped jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Auto­mo­tive indi­cates over­all smaller gains than in recent months.

Learn more about the Sep­tem­ber auto sales fore­cast as the month winds down.

The new-vehicle sales pace in Sep­tem­ber has slowed slightly from its sprint in recent months, as vol­ume is impacted by fewer sell­ing days and the absence of Labor Day from Sep­tem­ber tal­lies, accord­ing to a monthly sales fore­cast devel­oped jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Auto­mo­tive.

Retail Light-Vehicle Sales New-vehicle retail sales in Sep­tem­ber 2013 are pro­jected to come in at 933,400 units, a 2 per­cent increase from Sep­tem­ber 2012. Retail trans­ac­tions are the most accu­rate mea­sure of true under­ly­ing con­sumer demand for new vehi­cles. The sea­son­ally adjusted annu­al­ized rate (SAAR) in Sep­tem­ber is expected to be 12.4 mil­lion units.

“Although the year-over-year sales gain in Sep­tem­ber is smaller than has been observed in recent months, it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize that Sep­tem­ber reported sales are being heav­ily influ­enced by a quirk on the indus­try sales cal­en­dar,” said John Humphrey, senior vice pres­i­dent of the global auto­mo­tive prac­tice at J.D. Power.

The auto indus­try reports sales on a sales month basis rather than a cal­en­dar month basis. His­tor­i­cally, the Labor Day hol­i­day has fallen in the Sep­tem­ber sales month; how­ever, in 2013, it fell in the August sales month, mean­ing that sales deliv­ered over the hol­i­day week­end were counted in August sales rather than Sep­tem­ber. J.D. Power esti­mates that more than 248,000 new vehi­cles were sold dur­ing the Labor Day week­end. Had those sales been included in Sep­tem­ber, LMC Auto­mo­tive indi­cates they would have lifted the monthly SAAR into the low 13 mil­lion unit range.

Humphrey com­mented that due to this dif­fer­ence in the sales report­ing cal­en­dar in 2013, it makes sense to eval­u­ate August and Sep­tem­ber sales in combination.

“When com­bined, August and Sep­tem­ber retail sales are expected to be up 10.6 per­cent, com­pared with August and Sep­tem­ber 2012, which under­scores the con­tin­ued pos­i­tive tra­jec­tory in growth and over­all health of the indus­try,” said Humphrey.