New-Vehicle Sales Expected to Fall for Seventh Month This Year

J.D. Power notes discounts for consumers in a forecast that calls for a 0.1 percent decline in November sales from the year-ago period.

byKate Gibson|
New-Vehicle Sales Expected to Fall for Seventh Month This Year

Holiday-weekend deals and strong consumer appetite for SUVs brought new life to vehicle sales in November, but the final tally is likely to be a fraction below last year, making for the seventh monthly decline this year.

Based on the first 16 selling days of the month, a forecast out this week from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive calls for the seasonally adjusted annualized rate for retail sales to be 13.4 million units, a drop of 300,000 from a year ago. Retail sales in November are anticipated to reach 1,119,600 units, a 0.1 percent decrease compared with November 2016, the information and marketing services provider said.

“The need to clear out record inventories of prior model-year vehicles continues to keep incentive spending aggressive in November,” Thomas King, senior vice president of J.D. Power's data and analytics unit, said in a release.

New model-year vehicles account for just 44 percent of month-to-date sales compared with 53 percent in November 2016.  Average incentive spending per unit to date in November is at $4,065, just shy of the record $4,091 set in September.

“Savvy car shoppers took advantage of additional discounts over the Thanksgiving weekend, and that sales bump will likely push spending to a new all-time high,” King said. Last year, retail sales after Thanksgiving accounted for 32 percent of November sales, while spending also subsequently rose by nearly 11 percent during the same period.

The mid-month projection follows others forecasting a larger drop in November sales, including one from Kelley Blue Book calling for a 1 percent decline.