J.D. Power: Memorial Day weekend key to May's new-vehicle retail sales

(May 20, 2016) DETROIT — Automakers are counting on strong new-vehicle sales over the Memorial Day holiday weekend to help give May sales the boost needed for a moderate increase over this month in 2015, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

New-vehicle retail sales in May are expected to reach 1,241,200 units, a modest 1% increase from a year ago on a selling-day adjusted basis, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. The Memorial Day weekend is historically one of the strongest sales we
ekends of the year.

"The Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest car-buying periods of the year, and we expect it to account for 19% of the month's retail sales," said Deirdre Borrego, senior vice president and general manager of automotive data and analytics at J.D. Power.

"While month-to-date sales indicate we will see a slight increase compared with May 2015, a key variable is the extent to which manufacturers launch holiday incentive programs. Depending on the value and availability of those programs, there is potential for May sales to exceed expectations."  

Retail sales through the first five months of 2016 are projected to reach 5.6 million units, only 0.4% higher on a selling-day adjusted period with the same period in 2015. The pace is on track with LMC Automotive and J.D. Power's full-year projection of 14.3 million units for retail sales, a 1% increase from last year.

    • The seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) for retail sales in May 2016 is projected to reach 14.1 million units, down from 14.4 million units in May 2015.

    • Total light-vehicle sales in May are expected to reach 1,539,500, up 2.2% on a selling-day adjusted basis from 1,632,354 from a year ago.

   • The SAAR for total sales is projected at 17.4 million units in May 2016, down from 17.7 million a year ago.

    • Given that performance is running just behind expectations, LMC Automotive is reducing its total light-vehicle forecast for 2016 to 17.7 million units from 17.8 million units.

    • Fleet sales in May are expected to hit 298,000, an 8.4% increase from 298,234 in May 2015, on a selling-day adjusted basis.