Analysts now estimate the new vehicle sales will wind up dropping in September when the final numbers are totaled up next week.
With two fewer selling days and an early Labor Day holiday, the car shopping experts at Edmunds forecast September will be a down month for the auto industry. The predicted that 1,267,607 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.1 million.
The estimate reflects a 23% decrease in sales from August 2019 and an 11.6% drop from September 2018.
“September auto sales look a little bleak on paper, but it’s just a matter of a tough year-over-year comparison,” explained Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds’ senior manager of industry analysis. “This is one of those times when you have to look at the full quarter to get a more accurate perspective of what’s really happening in the market,” he said.
Edmunds experts forecast that 4,317,448 new cars and trucks will be sold in the third quarter of 2019, reflecting a 3.1% decrease from the second quarter of 2019, but a 0.8% increase from the third quarter of 2018. This would mark the first quarter this year that auto sales will be up on a quarterly basis compared to 2018.
“All year long we’ve been talking about high prices and rising interest rates keeping shoppers on the sidelines, but in the third quarter those pressures eased up just enough to get consumers back in a buying mood,” Acevedo said. “If this momentum continues, we expect a solid finish to the year.”
Virtually all of the major carmakers, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. Fiat Chrysler N.V., Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai/Kia and Volkswagen will all report a drop in September, according to Edmunds analysis.
TrueCar, the shopping service and data and analytics subsidiary, ALG, estimates total new vehicle sales will be slightly better, reaching 1,288,972 units in September, down 2.2% from a year ago when adjusted for the same number of selling days.
“Despite a slight rebound in consumer confidence in September, overall auto sales are expected to decline given that Labor Day weekend fell into August this year,” said Oliver Strauss, chief economist for ALG, a subsidiary of TrueCar.
“Nevertheless, the third quarter was up and auto sales remain on pace to hit 17 million units for 2019 aided by more fleet and incremental incentives,” he said.
For the third quarter, ALG estimated the total vehicle sales are forecast to be 4,334,457 units, up 1% from a year ago when adjusted for the same number of selling days, which would mark the first quarter in 2019 to show an increase in sales year-over-year.
The SAAR in September, according to ALG, is estimated at 17.4 million units with 2019 new car sales to continue to stay on course to reach 17 million units as initially forecast in January.
Excluding fleet sales, ALG expects U.S. retail deliveries of new cars and light trucks to be 1,075,416 million units, a decrease of 4.4% from a year ago when adjusted for the same number of selling days.