Here’s how mild weather may heat up February new-car sales

Here’s how mild weather may heat up February new-car sales

Winter months are usually a slow time for U.S. car dealerships, but milder-than-usual February weather may have been a boon for new-car sales after a surprisingly weak January.

As a leap year, this February also has 25 selling days, one more than in February 2023. That would contribute to the uptick, which is also based on rising inventories and discounts returning to dealerships.

Two major estimates recently pinned February’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales at 15.4 million vehicles.

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January’s annual rate of 15 million vehicles, according to several estimates, was a steeper-than-estimated drop from around 15.8 million vehicles in December, with the decline partly blamed on colder-than-usual weather across much of the U.S.

The U.S. annual rate of sales has averaged 15.5 million over the last six months, “and the expectation is that sales this month will return closer to that trend after falling off in January,” analysts at Cox Automotive said Wednesday.

February weather was “particularly mild across much of the country, so a bit of a rebound is expected this month. We are also seeing solid inventory levels and growing incentives and discounts, which should help sales volume,” they said.

Last week, J.D. Power and Global Data jointly called for annualized February sales of around 15.4 million vehicles. Contributing factors included “higher inventory levels, higher manufacturer incentives and lower retailer profit margins,” they said.

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