May Car Sales Forecast: Sales May Cool Ahead of Hot Summer Selling Season | Edmunds

May Car Sales Forecast: Sales May Cool Ahead of Hot Summer Selling Season


SANTA MONICA, California — May car sales may dip compared to a year ago, but Edmunds.com forecasts that 2016 is still on track to break last year's record of 17.47 million new-car sales.

The projected May sales will be a 2.3 percent increase from April 2016, but a 5.8 percent decrease from May 2015.

"It's easy to look at May's sales and conclude that the retail car market is losing steam, but it's too soon to say for sure that auto sales are leveling off," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com director of industry analysis. "As in previous years, the summer months will flush out more incentives from automakers and the urgency that shoppers show in responding to these incentives will give the industry a much better sense of how the market is trending."

The forecast comes just ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, a traditionally busy time for dealers.

Car shoppers snapped up trucks and SUVs in April, a trend that may continue into May.

The roll call of popular vehicles in April included the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck, Ford Explorer midsize SUV and Jeep Renegade compact SUV.

Other winners in the April sales report included the Honda Odyssey minivan, Toyota RAV4 compact SUV and Nissan Murano crossover.

Gas prices may be a key factor in the car-buying equation in May and analysts will be watching to see if consumers return to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

AAA noted, "Gas prices are at their highest point for the year as we approach the Memorial Day holiday."

Prices are hovering around $2.31 a gallon nationwide.

Edmunds says: A key question is whether consumer preference for SUVs and pickup trucks will continue unabated in May.

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