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Forecast: US Auto Sales to Climb 3 Percent in May

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May 25, 2018—U.S. new-vehicle sales in May 2018 are expected to increase 3.1 percent compared to May 2017, according to a forecast released today by Cox Automotive.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), projected at 16.6 million for this month, is expected to fall to its lowest level since August 2017. The forecast 16.6 million SAAR is down slightly from the 16.7 million level in May 2017, and down from the 17.1 million pace the market has been averaging in 2018.

"This month's sales volume is expected to rise over last year, but May 2018 has one additional selling day," said Charles Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. "Sales volume is expected to reach 1.56 million, an increase of nearly 50,000 units from this time last year and up 15.6 percent from April 2018. This selling rate, however, would mark the first month below 17 million SAAR since last August, when Hurricane Harvey disrupted the market."

May is a critical month for the auto industry, with Memorial Day Weekend deals often driving robust sales. During the last five years, May has averaged the highest volume over any other month, driven in part by aggressive holiday incentives and promotions.

This year, Memorial Day is earlier than usual, which will afford automotive dealers and buyers more time to take advantage of special offers. The all-time May sales record was in 2015 when 1.63 million units were sold. However, the record on a seasonally adjusted basis occurred back in 2004 when SAAR hit 17.8 million.

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