Edmunds forecasts continued decline in new-vehicle sales in February

(February 21, 2019) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Edmunds forecasts that 1,271,009 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in February for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 16.7 million. This reflects a 12.3 percent increase in sales from January and a 2.2 percent decrease from February 2018.

"Although the drop-off in sales is rather subtle year over year, February is shaping up to be a good barometer of the gradual sales decline we expect through 2019," said Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds' manager of industry analysis.

"We're really starting to see a slump in retail demand that stems from the growing costs of new car purchases."

Edmunds analysts note that although Presidents Day marked the first auto sales event of the year, the weekend's sales did not see a significant lift compared to the rest of the month. They also note that the slower sales pace in February indicates that there were few sales recuperated from either the extreme weather conditions or the government shutdown last month.

"It's easy to point fingers at anomalous factors like the polar vortex as the reason for a sales slowdown, but the numbers don't show that's the case," said Acevedo. "Record-high interest rates and rising average transaction prices are what's really putting pressure on the market and keeping car shoppers at bay so far in 2019."