AutoNation, the largest U.S. auto retailer, said its new-vehicle sales slipped 10 percent to 20,758 units in September compared with the same month last year. The U.S. market as a whole declined 4 percent during the month, largely because of a statistical quirk.
Spokesman Marc Cannon said September sales reports didn't include the Labor Day weekend while last year's numbers included those sales.
"September saw two less selling days than last year," Cannon said in an e-mail. "This is a once every five year calendar thing, which is why our numbers were down this month."
AutoNation said its same-store retail sales for September were 19,829, down 14 percent from September 2012, while overall sales of domestic vehicles were down 5 percent from September 2012. Import sales slipped 17 percent in the month, down to 9,853 units while premium-luxury sales also took a hit, falling 3 percent to 4,381.
Despite the lower September numbers, AutoNation said its third quarter still generated its best overall quarterly new-vehicle sales since 2007.
The company saw a 13 percent growth in new-vehicle sales in the quarter, with same-store vehicle sales increasing 8 percent over the same period.
"This past quarter was the best in 24 quarters for AutoNation," Cannon said
New domestic-vehicle sales for the third quarter were up 17 percent over 2012, at 23,782 units. Import sales rose 9 percent to 39,092 units, and premium-luxury sales were up 19 percent to 13,869.
AutoNation is expected to release its third-quarter earnings report on Oct. 24.