With showrooms across the nation shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic and a number of stores damaged in the worst civil unrest in half a century, spotting the silver lining in a limited May U.S. sales report can be tough.
But there is this: So far, amid the chaos and tumult of these perilous times, there have at least been no reports of burning hail or frogs raining down.
Rivers of red ink, on the other hand, may be a different story.
Analysts believe auto sales fell roughly 30 percent in May compared with the previous year — a figure that could easily be seen as a win given the very real stresses on the nation's economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, still-high levels of unemployment and widespread civil unrest that began late in the month.
A full accounting of the industry's May sales wasn't available, as many automakers have ended monthly sales reporting; the Detroit 3 and a number of other automakers will disclose their second-quarter sales next month. But of the automakers that did report May sales, U.S. deliveries fell 26 percent at Toyota Motor North America, 17 percent at American Honda, 13 percent at Hyundai, 19 percent at Subaru, 24 percent at Kia, 2.5 percent at Volvo and just 1 percent at Mazda.
While depressed fleet sales were a significant contributor to lower overall volume, retail deliveries — juiced by high incentives — continued to bounce back from end-of-March lows. In a letter to dealers obtained by Automotive News, FCA said its retail deliveries were off only 15 percent, though it didn't provide total sales for the month.