DETROIT — Chevrolet's employee-pricing promotion last month helped the brand's retail sales grow but couldn't keep its overall sales in the black.
Chevy sales dropped 3 percent in December, the Automotive News Data Center estimates. That compares with a 3 percent increase in retail sales, according to a person familiar with the results.
Chevrolet heavily advertised the "Employee Discount for Everyone" retail program, which was offered last month through Jan. 2, on all 2018 and some 2019 models.
Jim Cain, a GM spokesman, called the promotion a "phenomenal success," which helped the automaker post retail sales gains for each month in the fourth quarter.
He declined to comment on Chevy's overall sales or retail sales in December, noting that GM moved to quarterly sales reporting in 2018.
Offering employee-pricing programs to the general public is typically effective in increasing short-term sales and clearing out older inventories. But it has been criticized for cutting into profit margins and pulling sales forward rather than adding incremental volume.
This is the second straight year that Chevrolet has run such a program. In December 2017, though, Chevrolet reported a 2.9 percent decline in sales, including a 1.5 percent slide in retail demand.
GM's overall sales last month were estimated to have fallen 3.7 percent because of lower fleet volume and limited availability of its redesigned full-size pickups.
GM said sales last year slid 1.6 percent to 2.95 million vehicles — marking its third consecutive year of slight U.S. sales declines and the first total below 3 million since 2014. That included a 2.7 percent decline in the fourth quarter.