Gas prices usually put a complete damper on car sales, especially bigger trucks and SUVs. The uptick in sales this month could mean the economy is getting stronger, says industry tracker TrueCar.com, which issued the sales estimate earlier this week. But, like most economic forecast figures these days, the numbers don't paint a perfectly clear picture of what's going on.
TrueCar is forecasting a 10.5-percent increase in sales for September to 1,163,000 units, which translates to a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) of 14.6 million new car sales for the year, up from 13.1 million last September and 14.5 million in August 2012. Nevertheless, TrueCar forecasts that September sales will still be down about 9.5 percent compared with August.
Kelley Blue Book, which also tracks industry sales, says that the dip from August to September doesn't mean the economy is getting weaker – it's just a natural fluctuation in monthly car sales. Consumer demand is slowly picking up, it said. So don't expect sales figures to skyrocket any time soon.
"Even though the lack of big movements in car sales makes for less attractive headlines, the stable growth in sales is a positive for the industry," said Jesse Toprak, Vice President of Market Intelligence for TrueCar.