A surge in sales from a year ago is forecast for May for a market segment that is one of television’s most important advertisers: automotive.
Automotive News, citing a Reuters story, reports that U.S. new car sales will rise nearly 30% in May 2012 from May 2011. That would be the biggest gain in more than a year.
Admittedly, figures were down in May 2011. “U.S. light vehicle demand slumped 4 percent in May 2011 to 1,061,841 units as the impact of the March 2011 earthquake in Japan began to disrupt car and truck stockpiles,” the story reports.
The report adds: “The expected sales of 1,378,000 vehicles in May would translate to an annual selling rate of 14.2 million vehicles, matching January for the lowest pace of the year, Kelley Blue Book said. However, that would be the fifth consecutive month at a pace above 14 million, and well above the 11.7 million rate in May 2011.”
The growth in auto sales, in the absence of broader gains in the economy, has been described as a “wag the dog” scenario. Said Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Alec Gutierrez, in a statement: "During a typical post-recession recovery, we would expect to see auto sector gains being driven by broad economic growth. In the first quarter, the opposite was true, as auto sales were the primary driver behind GDP growth and have consistently been a bright spot in an otherwise slow-paced recovery.
"At this point, it is almost as if the tail is wagging the dog."