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Strong Labor Day Weekend Sales Pull Deliveries from September

Strong Labor Day Weekend Sales Pull Deliveries from September

By Jeff Youngs, September 20, 2013
September U.S. new car and light-truck sales are expected to rise only 4% from the same month in 2012, according to a monthly forecast update from J.D. Power and strategic partner LMC Automotive.

Historically, the Labor Day holiday has fallen in the September sales month. However this year, weekend deliveries fell in the August sales month. J.D. Power estimates that more than 248,000 new vehicles were sold during the Labor Day weekend and pulled into the August sales total.

Based on analysis of sales during the first two weeks of the month, new-vehicle sales are likely to reach nearly 1.33 million units, but may be weaker than in recent months due to strong Labor Day weekend sales that were tallied with August's robust sales totals.

Retail new-vehicle sales at U.S. dealerships in September are anticipated to rise just 2%, to 933,400 units, while the fleet portion of the sales mix, or about 200,000 unit sales, will account for nearly 18% of total sales in September. Fleet sales have been averaging between 20% and 22% of the total sales mix annually, according to LMC Automotive.

"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 the [Labor Day weekend] quirk in the sales calendar," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power.

Yet, when August and September retail deliveries are combined to compensate for the difference in monthly sales reports this year, sales are expected to climb nearly 11% compared with the same two-month period in 2012, which Humphrey says "underscores the continued positive trajectory in growth and overall health of the auto industry."

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