The industry catches a lucky break this month

The urban legend is sure to surface again for the next few days on Facebook pages and e-mails, proclaiming that July is a remarkably rare phenomenon because it contains five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays -- five full weekends.

The usual goofball Internet scientists somehow calculate that this only happens once every 823 years. Which is malarkey. It happened in October 2010, and it will happen again in March 2013. But it is still sort of rare, nonetheless.

But at the moment, it’s better than rare -- it’s good timing.

Auto retailers love weekends. And who doesn’t? But auto retailers need weekends.

Weekends are sale-o-thons with banners flapping in the breeze. Weekends are Saturday newspaper ad blitzes. Weekends are days-off-from-the-salt-mine for customers who really want to kick tires. Weekends are errand days, when the home mechanic finally pops into the do-it-yourself auto parts store and learns that replacing those parts will cost him far more than the trouble it’s worth, so why not go ahead and buy a new vehicle?

Weekends like this one are holiday celebrations of carefree euphoria. As in, "Honey, what the heck -- let’s go down and buy that new sedan we saw on TV."

Anything goes on a pretty Saturday afternoon when the lawn is mowed.

And if there were ever a moment when the auto industry needed five weekends in a month, it’s July 2011.

The excitement of the earlier part of the year has subsided in a disappointing funk. Not because sales are bad, but because they are just disappointing. And retailers and factories are reporting that customers are beginning to stir, but now inventory shortages are spooking them, even as inventory shortages recede.

The business just needs to catch a lucky break.The general feeling is that, if just given a little more muscle, a little more effort, the retail market could be a couple of degrees better. A little more oomph -– from anywhere -– could get the industry back in stride.

So here’s the opportunity: five full weekends in a single sales month. Call it a bonus weekend -- and the bonus month for 2011.

It might be just the spark to get the industry running again.

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