Extra selling day to give auto sales a boost in July, Edmunds says

(July 26, 2019) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The car shopping experts at Edmunds forecast that 1,380,771 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in July for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 16.5 million. This reflects a 9.3% decrease in sales from June 2019, but a 0.5% increase from July 2018.

July is expected to be the first month in 2019 to show a boost in monthly auto sales compared to 2018; however, Edmunds experts caution this is not the first sign of a turnaround.

"A lot of people are enjoying vacations and family time in July, so it's generally not a strong month for auto sales. The fact that automakers could eke out a slight gain is encouraging but not necessarily indicative of a positive trend," said Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds' senior manager of insights. "The extra selling day makes things look a little better than they really are, and we still believe sales will continue to trend downward through the back half of the year."

Edmunds analysts note that dealers are starting to get more motivated to move aging inventory off their lots, which is also expected to augment July sales.

"The model-year selldown is in full swing," said Acevedo. "We're seeing old cars lingering on dealer lots a bit longer than they should, which means that shoppers could see more attractive sales events as we head into the end of summer."

Edmunds estimates that retail SAAR will come in at 14.2 million vehicles in July, with fleet transactions accounting for 14.0% of total sales. An estimated 3.4 million used vehicles will be sold in July, for a SAAR of 39.6 million (compared to 3.3 million — or a SAAR of 39.5 million — in June).