August new-car sales will hit 1,273,000 units overall, an 18.7% increase from last year, according to Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com.) The firm says that after adjusting for one additional selling day in August, car sales are projected to improve by 14.3%. The firm expects daily selling rate to decline nearly 1,000 units per day compared to July. But the decline is seasonal, with a decline in fleet sales. Retail sales volume will remain relatively flat month-over-month, outperforming seasonal expectations.
KBB says retail demand has been steady, a sluggish economic recovery notwithstanding. Meanwhile consumer sentiment improved slightly this month because Americans feel that the housing market has bottomed. Unemployment, however, remains high at 8.3%. The firm says that will be a limiting factor on auto sales.
“Although economic jitters remain top-of-mind for many, those consumers seeking replacement vehicles continue to opt for new cars with used-car values remaining high,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights, Kelley Blue Book, in a statement.
Kelley Blue Book expects stronger sales of compact, subcompact and hybrid because of fuel prices, now over $4 in many markets. Mid-size car sales also remain strong at 16.8% market share, per the firm, which adds that Toyota's Camry will continue to lead segment sales, though pressure will come from the 2013 Nissan Altima, which posts 38 mpg highway.