Labor Day Weekend Boosts September New Car Sales
This year’s strong Labor Day weekend auto sales is expected to boost September new-vehicle deliveries by 8.4% compared with the same month’s totals in 2014, according to a sales forecast update from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive. So far this month, compact and small SUVs were sales stars—accounting for one in every five new vehicles sold.
Through the first 16 selling days* of the month, the total new-vehicle sales pace averaged 17.7 million units—the strongest sales rate of any month in more than a decade. Consumers purchased or leased more than 200,000 new cars and light trucks over Labor Day weekend, which amounts to an expected 17% of total September deliveries.
“Having Labor Day sales count in September gives the month a tremendous lift,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. “On a selling-day-adjusted basis, sales through the Labor Day weekend were 72% stronger than the same time a year ago.”
Retail new-vehicle sales in September are projected to climb 10.2%, to nearly 1.2 million units vs. 1.01 million units a year ago. Total (retail and fleet) deliveries in September 2015 likely will rise 8.4%, to 1.4 million units vs. 1.24 million units a year ago. Fleet volume may make up a 17.1% share of the market vs. 18.4% last year. While Labor Day weekend sales are pacing the gains, J.D. Power’s Humphrey notes that even after the holiday sales are up 3% from last year’s same period.
Truck sales, which tend to accelerate after Labor Day, made up 57.8% of retail new-vehicle sales in the 16-day period—the highest truck percentage since July 2005.
As a result of the sales strength from May through August, LMC Automotive raised its 2015 total light-vehicle sales forecast to 17.2 million units from 17.1 million units. Commenting on the positive adjustment, Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said, “The Federal Reserve’s decision to keep interest rates at the current level paves the way for the U.S. auto market to post strong results for the remainder of 2015, as the primary risk—a rate increase—is likely pushed out to December or early 2016. Sales the previous three months have significantly exceeded expectations, so if interest rates remain low, auto sales in 2016 will get a further boost from an economy that should accelerate.”
*There are 25 selling days in September 2015 vs. 24 days in September 2014.