Big retailers are supporting a forecast that October retail sales could be the strongest of the year so far. J.D. Power and Associates last week estimated that retail sales for the month would rise 17 percent to 756,300 units, which translates to an annualized rate of 10.2 million vehicles. If that happens, it would be the first time all year that the retail sales rate tops 10 million, J.D. Power said.
Leaders of two big dealership groups on Tuesday agreed that October is looking that good. Through the weekend, sales data for Group 1 Automotive is consistent with J.D. Power’s forecast, CEO Earl Hesterberg said.
“October appears to be off to a very good start with 80 percent or more of the month already behind us,” Hesterberg said.
He doesn’t have a good explanation for the spike, though. Manufacturer incentives really aren’t higher, Hesterberg said. “I’m a bit surprised by it,” he said. “There wasn’t any evidence in the third quarter of any renewed consumer strength.”
Asbury Automotive Group CEO Charles Oglesby also told me Tuesday that a 17 percent year-over-year gain in retail sales is possible this month. “Traffic in October is somewhat stronger than it was in September,” Oglesby said.
This coming weekend will be the determining factor.