Retail Sales to Decline in September; Weather Affects Sales for Second Consecutive Year
Incentive Spending on both Cars and Trucks/SUVs Expected to Fall in September
DETROIT: 27 Sept. 2018 — New-vehicle retail sales in September are expected to fall from a year ago, according to a forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. Retail sales are projected to reach 1,172,700 units, a 2.8% decrease compared with September 2017 on a selling day adjusted basis. (Note: September 2018 has one less selling day than September 2017).
“For the second consecutive year, storms have disrupted the pattern of new vehicle sales in September,” said Thomas King, Senior Vice President of the Data and Analytics Division at J.D. Power. “Sales in North and South Carolina through the first three weeks were down 12% due to Hurricane Florence. Conversely, while sales in the adjacent areas were up 19% vs. the Hurricane Irma-effected results of last year. Despite the storm, we expect some of the sales to be made up this month, and the remaining to be recovered in October.”
Incentive spending in September is on pace to fall the for the third month in a row and marks the first time this year that spending on trucks/SUVs has fallen. September to-date spending was $3,910 per unit, down $152 from the same time last year. Spending on cars was down $371, while spending on trucks/SUVs was down $52.
“Reduced spending for the industry is partially a reflection of the reduced availability of low APR offers as interest rates rise,” King said. “Finance deals with an APR of less than 1% have accounted for 5.3% of sales in September, down from 8.2% last year. However, as trucks/SUVs approach 70% mix of retail sales, any imbalances in inventory could place pressure on spending to rise in Q4.” Trucks/SUVs have accounted for 69% of sales through month-to-date and are on pace to exceed 70% by October.
J.D. Power and LMC Automotive U.S. Sales and SAAR Comparisons
New-Vehicle Retail Sales
(-2.8% lower than September 2017)2
Total Vehicle Sales
(-2.2% lower than September 2017)2
14.5 million units
13.1 million units
15.2 million units
17.4 million units
16.6 million units
18.1 million units
1Figures cited for September 2018 are forecasted based on the first 18 selling days of the month.
2September 2018 has 25 selling days, while September 2017 had 26 selling days in the month.
- The average new-vehicle retail transaction price to date in September is $32,003, an all-time monthly record. The previous high for the month of September—$31,543—was set last year.
- Average incentive spending per unit to date in September is $3,910, down from $4,061 during the same period last year.
- Consumers are on pace to spend $38.1 billion on new vehicles in September, which is $1.5 billion less than last year’s level.
- Truck/SUVs account for 69% of new-vehicle retail sales through Sept. 23—the highest level ever for the month of September—making it the 27th consecutive month above 60%.
- Days to turn, the average number of days a new vehicle sits on a dealer lot before being sold to a retail customer, is 69 days through September 23, down 6 days from last year.
- Fleet sales are expected to total 257,800 units in September, up 0.8% from September 2017. Fleet volume is expected to account for 18% of total light-vehicle sales, which is flat vs. last year.
Jeff Schuster, President, Americas Operations and Global Vehicle Forecasts at LMC Automotive, said, “While the auto industry has exhibited mixed health signals, there have been some improvements in recent weeks and vehicle sales have quietly maintained a solid pace. Trade and rising interest rate risk remain real factors in the background, clouding investment decisions and potential future consumer purchases.”
LMC’s forecast for 2018 total light-vehicle sales remains at 17.2 million units, an increase of just 0.1% from 2017. The retail light-vehicle forecast remains at 13.8 million units, a decline of 1.3% from 2017. Fleet volume is expected to rise by 6.1% and account for 20% of total light-vehicle sales.
U.S. Retail SAAR— September 2017 to September 2018
(in millions of units)
Source: Power Information Network® (PIN) from J.D. Power
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