Sales of cars and light trucks continue to recover from the deep downturn this year but were held back in August by tight inventories.
In addition, the closely watched numbers compared unfavorably with year-earlier results because August 2019 sales benefited from the inclusion of the Labor Day weekend.
The lingering effect of this year's auto factory shutdowns, which halted supply for as long as eight weeks, is still being felt in low dealership inventories, even as shipments arrive daily. Toyota, Honda and Subaru all reported double-digit percentage declines on reduced inventory.
Faring better last month were brands that are less dependent on North American factories. Hyundai, Kia and Mazda reported only single-digit declines in August, and Volvo posted a sales gain for the month. All four brands benefited from adequate supplies of imported models.