Here's a twist: Just last week, I was commenting on what looked to be a sales plateau on the road to a full recovery. No sooner was this posted and sales data started coming in that--if this pace continues through the month end — might force me to reassess.
Here's why: In February, at the midway point sales looked to be tracking at around 15.5m SAAR. Things slowed a bit toward the end of the month and the total ended up at 15.3m. This month at the midpoint, sales again were tracking toward a 15.5m SAAR finish. Factor in the SAAR for January, December 2012, etc. and you can see what certainly looked like a sales plateau.
But yesterday, I looked at data that suggests we might close March at a 15.8 SAAR; way up from last month's 15.3 SAAR and tantalizingly close to the magic 16m rate.
Will this pace hold? And what does it means in terms of the rest of the year? We will know soon enough. Meanwhile, here are more details: Retail sales are now tracking to finish at around 1,185k and a SAAR of 12.9m. (This compares with 941k and a SAAR of 12.4m last month). If we assume fleet mix of around 21.0% (February was 20.9%), then March will have total vehicle sales of around 1,501k and a SAAR of 15.8m. (February ended with total sales of 1,192k and a SAAr of 15.3m.)
Looking at changes in retail share, Nissan and Volkswagen are up significantly (+10% and 9% respectively), while GM is down quite a bit around 9%. Not much movement from everyone else.