Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vehicle Sales Forecasts: March Rebound

by Calculated Risk on 3/26/2014 03:30:00 PM

Auto sales were clearly impacted by the harsh winter weather in January and February. For an excellent article on weather and auto sales, see Weakening Economy or Just Bad Winter? by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi. Now we will see if sales rebound ...

Note: The automakers will report March vehicle sales on Tuesday, April 1st.  Sales in February were at a 15.3 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), and it appears there will be a solid increase in March.

Here are a couple of forecasts:

From Kelley Blue Book: New-Car Sales Expected To Rise 2 Percent In March, Fall 0.3 Percent In First Quarter 2014

New-vehicle sales are expected to rise 2 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.48 million units, and an estimated 15.7 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to Kelley Blue Book ... A 15.7 million SAAR would mark the seventeenth consecutive month above 15 million and the greatest March since 2007.

"Following two months of weaker-than-expected sales, the industry should start to bounce back in March," said Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Although we aren't expected to hit 16 million SAAR, indications show that consumers are returning to showrooms in spring. The momentum built in March should set the market up for a big month in April.
Note: In March 2014, there was one less selling day than in March 2013 (26 days vs. 27 last year).

From J.D. Power: Auto Sales Recovering After Slow Start to 2014
Cold and snowy weather may have depressed new-vehicle sales in January and February of 2014, but customers are returning to dealership showrooms in March, according to a new sales forecast jointly issued by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. According to the latest forecast, retail sales are expected to demonstrate a 7% increase over March 2013, with 1,148,338 new cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans rolling into American driveways.

Additionally, the average transaction price for those new vehicles remains above $29,300, the highest ever for the month of March and $700 higher than in March 2013, reflecting continued economic strength and improved consumer confidence.

"The severe weather had an impact on retail sales in January and February, but as the weather has improved, so have sales," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. "Additionally, stronger pricing coupled with lower reliance on fleet continues to bode well for the overall health of the sector."

At the start of March 2014, automakers had stockpiled an 80-day supply of new vehicles, while a 60-day supply is considered ideal. LMC Automotive isn't concerned, though, and expects a faster selling rate to reduce inventories to normal levels.
J.D. Power didn't provide a fleet forecast or SAAR forecast, but this suggests a significant increase over the February rate.