Anyone wondering if U.S. auto sales would experience a June swoon after two months of improving results can put those thoughts out of their heads, according to three prominent automotive consultancies.
J.D. Power and LMC Automotive revealed they expect sales will be down about 25% in June to 1.09 million vehicles, supporting a similar forecast by analysts at Edmunds, who expect a drop of 28.7% this month.
“The industry continues to show signs of recovery in June,” Power and LMC said in a statement on Friday. “The combination of pent-up demand, states relaxing coronavirus-related restriction and elevated incentives are all providing a tailwind for the industry.”
Sales fell more than 40% in April and 29% in May compared with year-ago results, due to the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Since then automakers have been working to find ways to entice customers into dealership showrooms and onto their websites.
As a result, there are record levels of incentives from automakers supporting the sales recovery. The average June incentives are on a record pace, tracking to hit $4,411, the highest ever for June and an increase of $445 from a year earlier, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said.
But inventory constraints amid the COVID-19 pandemic and any easing of the pent-up demand could hurt the overall pace of the sales recovery, said the consultancies.
The second quarter is looking like it’s going to take a hit as well, according to Edmunds experts, who are forecasting sales of 2,914,860 new cars and trucks in the second quarter — a 34.3% decrease from the second quarter of 2019.
“It comes as no surprise that the second quarter was a disappointing one for the automotive industry, but the good news is that auto sales didn’t come to a complete standstill either,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of insights.
“The fact that retail sales — not fleet — are what kept the market propped up speaks volumes to the resilience of the American consumer. And the way that dealers were quick to pivot to online sales also underscores the incredibly responsive and resourceful nature of the industry in the face of adversity.”
Although Edmunds data shows a steady growth in sales since the end of March, analysts caution that some of the strains of the pandemic are starting to show as more shoppers return to the market.
“The marketplace is growing less inviting as automakers pull back on incentives and inventory dwindles due to factory shutdowns, particularly when it comes to trucks, which have been the one bright spot for sales during the pandemic,” said Caldwell.
“Current sales paint an optimistic picture given the circumstances, but between COVID-19 and today’s politically charged climate, the industry needs to prepare for uncertainties ahead.”