December ranked among the top new-car sales months in each of the last two years, and there's reason to believe that the trend will continue this year, according to Edmunds.com. Last year, December ranked as the highest sales month with 1,145,079 total vehicles sold. The result came just one year after December was the second best sales month of 2009. But the December sales surge over the last two years is clearly the start of a new trend. From 1991 to 2008, December sales ranked just eighth, on average, each year. And during that period, December cracked the top three just once, in 2004.
"December has certainly been a month to remember for dealers over the last two years,'" says Edmunds.com Chief Economist Lacey Plache. "And with a substantial number of new car buyers still coming back to the market after deferring their purchases this summer, dealers have plenty of reason to believe that this December will continue the trend. Recent income growth, moderated inflation and improved consumer confidence are all combining to put consumers in a better position to spend."
If December is going to take the sales crown again this year, it must surpass March's sales volume of 1,246,720 vehicles. April currently sits in second place for 2011, with 1,157,924 cars and trucks sold during the month.
For some automotive brands, December sales success is hardly a new trend. Luxury makes like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have traditionally enjoyed strong end-of-year sales volumes triggered by higher incentive spending, and sell-offs of remaining current model-year vehicles. But only recently have some of the mainstream automakers joined the year-end party. Chevrolet, for example, had its second-best sales months in December in each of the last two years. Those rankings were sharp improvements over 2006 and 2007 when December ranked seventh and eighth place, respectively, for Chevrolet. Similar jumps occurred for Ford, Honda and Toyota.