December US auto sales, spurred by end-of-the-year bargains, likely rose about 4 percent from a year earlier, industry analysts said.
If confirmed, that would mean 2013 will end as the best for US auto sales since pre-recession 2007, at around 15.6 million new cars and trucks sold, which would be an increase of about 8 percent from 2012.
US consumers are expected to spend more than $34 billion on new vehicles in December, a historic high for the month, said JD Power & Associates, which said the annual sales haul would also be a record at more than $370 billion.
Auto sales continue to outpace the recovery of the US economy. While auto sales are expected to rise again in 2014, the pace of the sales climb is expected to slow.
Factors that contributed to higher sales throughout 2013 were at play again in December, including low interest rates on loans, attractive lease deals and consumers wanting to replace older vehicles.
Plus, in December, there were manufacturer discounts as shoppers had time off during the holidays to visit a dealership, said Alec Gutierrez, analyst with auto research firm Kelley Blue Book.
December is one of the strongest months for US auto sales, in part because of the bargains available, but also because consumers have developed over decades behaviours that favour end-of-the year buying, said Thomas King, senior director at JD Power & Associates.
December’s typical rise in auto sales is often followed by a drop in sales in January. This past January, US retail auto sales were down 40 percent from December.