August Auto Sales Up A Bit, But Not Enough To Turn The Year Around – Forbes

Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2017

Forecasters expect a small – really small – increase in U.S. auto sales for August vs. the same month a year ago, after seven months of mostly small sales declines.

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive expect unit sales of just over 1.5 million in August, an increase of just under 1 percent from August 2016. U.S. automakers report August sales on Sept. 1.

Adjusted for the fact that there’s one more official “selling day” in August 2017 – 27, vs. 26 in August 2016 – J.D. Power and LMC Automotive consider the August total a decline, based on the average daily selling rate. Selling days don’t count Sundays or holidays.

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Without adjusting for selling days, Kelly Blue Book said separately it expects August sales to increase 1.5 percent year-over-year, also to around 1.5 million for the month. Edmunds.com also had a similar forecast, up 1.3 percent from August 2016.

For the U.S. auto industry, any improvement in August sales would be welcome. Through the end of July, U.S. auto sales for 2017 were down 2.9 percent, to about 9.9 million, according to the Automotive News Data Center. For the month of July, auto sales were down 6.9 percent, to about 1.4 million. (Forbes.com Contributor Jim Henry also reports for Automotive News.)

Within the total, consumers are moving to trucks, especially small, car-like “crossover” SUVs. The light-truck category includes crossovers, more traditional SUVs, pickups and minivans, and excludes medium and heavy commercial trucks.

Year-to-date through July, car sales – including four-door sedans, two-door coupes, convertibles, and traditional station wagons and hatchbacks – were down 12 percent, while light truck sales were up 4 percent. Light trucks accounted for about 63 percent of total U.S. auto sales year to date.

For the full year, LMC Automotive is sticking to a U.S. auto sales forecast of 17 million for 2017, down from a record 17.5 million in 2016, breaking a record string of seven consecutive years of increases.

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