DETROIT (Reuters) -- U.S. auto sales declined about 35 percent in the first half of May from a year earlier, and any start of a recovery is unlikely until late summer, J.D. Power & Associates said today.
The market research firm said it has again lowered its outlook for 2009 U.S. auto sales to 10 million units, 400,000 units below its previous forecast.
"While there are some signs of stability in the automotive market, current sales rates indicate that achieving recovery will not be a quick proposition," said Gary Dilts, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power.
New vehicle sales are expected to come in at 876,000 units in May, for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 9.3 million, the forecasting firm said. That would mark a return to March levels, after April's 9.5 million, as demand continues at 27-year lows.
A year ago, the figure was 14.3 million.
The firm said "a high level of consumer uncertainty" has led to a flattening of retail sales and a projected delay in recovery of two to three months beyond the spring selling season.
U.S. auto sales fell 37.4 percent in the first four months of 2009 compared with the same period last year, compounding woes surrounding U.S. automakers General Motors and Chrysler.
Chrysler filed for bankruptcy on April 30, and GM has said it will likely seek court protection by June 1. Automakers will release May sales totals on June 2.