J.D. Power and LMC Automotive forecast that new-vehicle retail sales for December will be down 1% from December 2017, the sixth consecutive monthly decline, and that retail sales for all of 2018 will be off 1.3% from full-year 2017.
The research companies expect December retail sales to come in 1.3 million units. For the year, the firms expect sales of 13.9 million vehicles. However, retail prices are up, with the average price tag in December projected to be $34,292, a record high.
“Despite retail sales falling for the sixth consecutive month, the continued growth in transaction prices is allowing manufacturers to offset lower sales with higher revenue,” Thomas King, senior vice president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “Consumers are on pace to spend nearly $45 billion on autos in December, up 1% from last year and the highest level ever recorded.”
Conversely, the companies see incentive spending for the month of December decreasing year-over-year. Average incentive per unit, they say, is down to $4,098 from $4,261 last December.
Truck and SUVs accounted for 72.3% of new-vehicle retail sales through Dec. 16–the highest level ever for December. Fleet sales, which increased by 2.7% from December 2017 to December 2018, are also on the rise.
What about 2019? Jeff Schuster, president of Americas operations and global vehicle forecasts at LMC, said that’s a little harder to predict. “Next year, the auto industry will continue to face heightened uncertainty and intense competitive challenges due to conflicting macro factors, the continuing SUV/car shift and the growing number of new electric vehicles joining the market,” he said in the statement.