U.S. customers return to car dealerships image

The end of the year has taken U.S. car dealers by surprise, as more Americans are replacing their old cars and trucks. Normally a quiet time for auto sales, November could become the industry’s strongest month of the year.

After years of delaying purchases, people are giving up on their old cars and trucks and are drawn to showrooms by attractive lease deals, an good supply of Japanese models and promotions on remaining 2011 models. “We’re seeing the most showroom traffic that we’ve seen all year,” Ed Williamson, Miami-area dealer for GM Buick-Cadillac-GMC was quoted as saying by the Detroit News.

Until now, customers have been reluctant to spend money on cars because of the uncertain job market, with unemployment sitting at around 9 percent in the past two years. Sales have also been affected by the shortage of Japanese cars during the summer and early fall due to factory disruptions caused by the earthquake in Japan and flooding in Thailand.

So far in 2011 sales have been better than in 2010, with at an annual rate of 12.6 million compared to 11.5 million. However, that is still well under the 2005 peak of 17 million.