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July Used Car Sales Hit “Blockbuster” Proportions

New car demand slipped as month dragged on.

by on Aug.01, 2011

Used car sales hit "blockbuster" proportions in July, according to one key industry analyst.

While July new car sales appeared to weaken as July dragged on, it appears to have been a great month for anyone with a used car to sell.

The struggling economy — and uncertain job prospects, in particular – seem to be leading many shoppers to try to curb spending by shifting to “previously owned,” rather than new vehicles, notes Art Spinella, chief analyst with CNW Marketing.

That meant an estimated 13.5% jump in use car demand last month, to 4.5 million cars, trucks and crossovers.  If the numbers hold, that would be the highest level of demand since July 2005.

Last month started out strong on the new car front, as well, according to preliminary dealer data collected by J.D. Power and Associates.  But with the jobless rate still high and the month marked by uncertainty about the federal debt and the possible impact on the economy, many buyers appear to have been holding off on visits to the showroom.

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“The auto industry is having a difficult time shaking off adversity, as vehicle sales start the second half of the year better than June, but not as strong as many people had hoped,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. “A recovery pattern is still expected, but the pace could be in question as reported weaker GDP growth in the first half of the year may dampen the outlook.”