Car sales rev up on US hol­i­day week­end

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

DETROIT: US re­tail­ers faced com­pe­ti­tion for cus­tomers from car sell­ers on Thanks­giv­ing week­end, as auto deal­ers of­fered bar­gains on ve­hi­cles as al­lur­ing as any dis­counted TV or stereo sys­tem.

The mad dash for mid­night “Black Fri­day” deals at stores like Walmart and Tar­get the day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing has be­come an an­nual rit­ual. Less no­ticed are the crowds flock­ing to car deal­ers. Novem­ber has long been a no­to­ri­ously slow month for car sales. But in re­cent years car deal­ers have joined in the Thanks­giv­ing week­end sales ex­trav­a­ganza, making Novem­ber one of the best months of the year for auto sales in re­cent years, said Jes­sica Cald­well, di­rec­tor of in­dus­try anal­y­sis for Ed­munds.com.

“Last year, Thanks­giv­ing week­end ac­counted for twice as many sales as any other week­end in Novem­ber. We ex­pect to see both trends con­tinue this year,” Cald­well said in a pre­week­end note to in­vestors.

Au­tos and Xboxes

The ac­tiv­ity Fri­day in a clus­ter of new car deal­er­ships near a busy in­ter­sec­tion just out­side Detroit con­firmed the trend. “It’s go­ing to be one of the busiest days of the year,” said Melvin Holmes, a sales con­sul­tant at Ta­maroff Honda, one of the deal­er­ships. Na­tional ad­ver­tis­ing by Honda and spe­cial pro­mo­tions by the deal­er­ship-ev­ery­one buy­ing a car Fri­day or Satur­day will get a tablet com­puter, an Xbox or Wii game sys­tem, or a 350-dol­lar gift card-were help­ing draw crowds, Holmes said.

At Serra Chevro­let a few doors away, cus­tomers were prowl­ing through the used car lot de­spite the light rain. “We’re al­ready busy,” said Chaz Suo­mala, one of Serra’s sales con­sul­tants. “It was crazy last year” he said. “We just thought it would be a good day to come out and start the process,” said Lana Crain, who was wait­ing with her hus­band to take a test drive at an­other deal­er­ship sell­ing Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep ve­hi­cles. Cus­tomers of­ten go on­line to re­search what car they want to buy, and with what op­tions.

Brian Brewer, a car dealer, said that the day af­ter Thanks­giv­ing had now be­come a pop­u­lar time to check out a de­sired set of wheels at closer quar­ters.

Buy­ers ‘ex­pect’ bar­gains

Honda, Toy­ota, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Chevro­let, Ford and FCA US (for­merly the Chrysler Group) all run spe­cial pro­mo­tions for Black Fri­day-with deals of­ten ex­tend­ing to to­day-and the Christ­mas hol­i­days. Mo­torists have come to ex­pect the hol­i­day pro­mo­tions, said Toy­ota spokesman Greg Thome. Eric Ly­man with TrueCar.com, a ve­hi­cle pric­ing and in­for­ma­tion web­site for buy­ers and deal­ers, said that Black Fri­day sales could help set a record and push the sea­son­ally ad­justed an­nu­al­ized rate (SAAR) for light ve­hi­cle sales in Novem­ber to 18.6 mil­lion units, the strong­est pace of any month this year. “This con­tin­ues to be a stand­out year for the in­dus­try, with Novem­ber sales likely set­ting a monthly record,” Ly­man said. “Con­sumers are ex­cited about Black Fri­day pro­mo­tions and th­ese month-long events ap­pear to be res­onat­ing with car buy­ers.” Over­all US ve­hi­cle sales have been ris­ing steadily since sink­ing to a monthly low of 9.95 mil­lion units in June 2009, a fig­ure not seen since the 1980s, ac­cord­ing to US Commerce Depart­ment fig­ures. In the past five years car sales have con­sis­tently peaked in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, go­ing from 12.03 mil­lion in De­cem­ber 2010 to 17.22 mil­lion in De­cem­ber 2014. Fig­ures for Novem­ber sales were slightly higher than De­cem­ber in 2013 and 2014, at 16.48 mil­lion and 17.44 mil­lion re­spec­tively. —AP

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