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Wednesday, April 02, 2008 10:30 AM

March Auto Roundup And Retail Sales Forecast

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March Auto sales were a disaster across the board. Let's take a look.

Ford Sales down 14%

Ford's US sales down 14 percent in March

  • U.S. sales fell 14 percent
  • Truck and SUV sales fell 16 percent
  • Ford Expedition fell 34 percent
  • F-Series pickup fell 24 percent
  • Car sales were down 10 percent
Small cars fared best as consumers focused on fuel efficiency. The Ford Focus saw sales jump 24 percent for the month.

GM Sales Down 13%

GM March U.S. sales fall an adjusted 13 percent
General Motors Corp (GM) said on Tuesday that its U.S. sales fell an adjusted 13 percent in March to 282,732 vehicles and left intact its second-quarter production forecast.
GM Blames Consumer Confidence
"I think the main weakness is consumer confidence," said GM sales chief Mark LaNeve. "It's (mortgages) resetting. It's worry about the news. It's presidential candidates telling you how bad it is. It's Bear Stearns."

"The compact cars and the new crossovers are really what is carrying most manufacturers," said Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com, adding that the industry-wide sales decline was in line with his expectations.

"Consumers want to buy cheaper, more gas efficient vehicles," Toprak said.
If only presidential candidates would stop telling everyone how bad things were, then everyone would be rushing out to buy a Camaro.

Then again perhaps consumers are broke, have no job, have no job prospects, and gas prices are through the roof.

GM says still expects second-half U.S. recovery
General Motors Corp still expects the U.S. economy to recover in the second half of 2008, pulling industry-wide auto sales higher, an executive said on Tuesday.
GM sales analyst Mike DiGiovanni, speaking to reporters and analysts on a conference call, said he saw "early signs" that the U.S. market was steadying.
My Comment: Is this some kind of April Fool's Joke?
Separately, GM North American sales chief Mark LaNeve said GM's inventory of full-size pickup trucks was "more than adequate" despite a five-week-old strike at supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc that has idled 30 GM plants.
My Comment: And it will be more than adequate if the strike lasts another 15 weeks. Who wants full sized pickups? GM ought to be thankful for that strike or they would be ramping up for a nonexistent second half recovery.

Toyota Sales Down 3.4%

Toyota says U.S. March sales down adjusted 3.4 percent
Toyota Motor Co on Tuesday posted a 3.4 percent decline in March sales after adjusting for two fewer sales days in the month compared with a year earlier.

The automaker, ranked No. 2 in the U.S. market by sales, said its Toyota-brand sales were down 2.9 percent. Sales for the Japanese automaker's luxury Lexus brand were down 6.9 percent, it said.

Toyota said its car sales were up 1.5 percent in the month, while truck sales dropped by 8.8 percent in March.
Retails Sales Estimates Cut

Bloomberg is reporting U.S. Retailer Group Cuts Sales Estimate Second Time.
A U.S. retailer group cut its March sales estimate for a second time as shoppers concerned about job security and the worst housing slump in a quarter century cut apparel spending.

Retail sales probably fell or were little changed in the month, down from last week's prediction of 1 percent growth, the International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS Securities LLC said today.

"We've been in a recession ever since October," said Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group in Charleston, South Carolina. "I'm predicting a very soft next 14 months in consumer spending until Memorial Day in May of 2009."

Tax Refunds

Seventy percent of consumers who have received their 2007 income tax refund are using it to pay off credit cards and bills, the first time in 20 years that figure has topped 50 percent, according to Beemer. People who may have never seen the inside of a Wal-Mart are now buying groceries there, he said.

"In my 29 years of research, consumers are doing exactly what they said they are going to do: they're not spending," Beemer said in a telephone interview. He said his firm interviews 8,000 to 15,000 consumers a week.
This is a stunning announcement: "Seventy percent of consumers who have received their 2007 income tax refund are using it to pay off credit cards and bills, the first time in 20 years that figure has topped 50 percent."

Anyone who thinks Bush's economic stimulus package will work is sadly mistaken.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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