September Sales Pace Slows, but Still on Track

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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.

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