October 2016 sales expected to fall behind record October 2015

By Kalea Hall



This year’s auto sales are neck-and-neck with last year’s record-breaking sales.

January-September 2016 sales of 13.1 million are up by just 0.4 percent over the same time last year, which is why analysts are watching the final few months of auto sales closely.

Kelley Blue Book analysts expect to see total sales of 17.3 million to 17.6 million for the year. Last year was the best year for the industry with 17.47 million vehicles sold.

“We are going to review that every month,” said Tim Fleming, KBB analyst.

With two fewer selling days than last October, this October’s sales are supposed to decline by at least 6 percent year-over-year when automakers report sales Tuesday.

But analysts say this month’s expected 1.3 million in sales is still a solid figure. Last October, automakers collectively reported 1.45 million sales for the best October in more than a decade.

“It’s hard to replicate every year,” said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for Edmunds.com. “It was such a strong time and a strong month. We are still in the same ballpark. Being close to that still puts us in a very good place.”

Edmunds’ analysts expect to see new vehicle sales of 1.35 million in October, which would be a 6.8 percent drop from last October.

No automakers are expected to shine this month. Edmunds analysts expect all of them to post a decline.

KBB analysts are calling for total sales of 1.36 million this month for a 6 percent drop year-over-year. KBB also does not expect to see any automakers post an increase in sales.

“Volume is going to be down, but the comparison is going to be difficult because of how strong last year was,” Fleming said.

Larger vehicles will continue to stay on trend and sell at a hotter rate than the smaller vehicles.

“That’s a trend that’s going to continue for quite some time,” Caldwell said.

KBB analysts expect to see every segment post a decrease in sales. Edmunds does not send out a forecast for each segment.

After six years of consecutive growth in the industry, a drop or plateau in sales is to be expected.

“It’s not sustainable,” Caldwell said. “It’s got to level off.”

Analysts expect to see automakers prepare for an industry slowdown in some way, such as increasing incentives or reducing production of some vehicles, for example.

“It’s going to be different for every manufacturer,” Fleming said. “We will see manufacturers adjust to demand.”