US: January sales slowed by strong winter image

Analysts concluded that snow and frightful temperatures throughout the American states likely hurt auto sales for the January month. Still, the analysts also say the rebound should not be hurt by the freeze.

Just like in December, when sales also fell short of expected results, the bad weather stormed large parts of the country and economists polled by Thomson Reuters expect the industry’s annual selling rate in January to finish at 15.65 million vehicles. As a comparison, the industry’s annual sales rate was 15.23 million vehicles in January 2013.

“It’s the winter blues really,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at research firm LMC Automotive. “The country has been hit by bad weather and in January we saw it at the beginning of the month and now we’re closing with weather issues.”

For LMC, the bad weather was illustrated clearly in its research note – they initially forecast a sales increase in January of 1.2 % and an annual sales rate of 15.9 million vehicles, but later cut that to a decline of almost 1 % and an annual rate of 15.5 million.

Still, on average, most of the analysts expect January sales on a percentage basis to finish close to flat compared with last year, with some seeing a slight increase and others a small decline.

Even though monthly automotive sales are seen as a good indicator of the overall US economy health, January has not been taken into consideration as much as other months by both industry officials and analysts because statistically the month has been bad in 19 of the last 20 years.

Via Reuters