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Canadian auto sales down in January: Scotiabank

Vehicle purchases in the U.S. also dropped in January, a new report from Scotiabank said, as sales activity rebalances from strong gains in late-2018 and adverse weather conditions keep buyers at bay.


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February 5, 2019 by Canadian Plastics

Canadian auto sales declined by 7.2% year-over-year (y/y) in January, for an eleventh consecutive month of year-on-year drops, a new report from Scotiabank said.

The long series of monthly sales drops follows record-high January sales in 2018, Scotiabank said in its latest Auto News Flash. “Following particularly weak sales activity in the final quarter of 2018, purchases rose by 4.4% month-over-month (m/m) from December to an annualised total of 1.91 million units delivered in seasonally-adjusted terms,” the report said. “Auto sales continue to face headwinds of slowing employment growth and rising interest rates. We forecast vehicle purchases to total 1.93 million units sold in 2019, down from 1.98 million and 2.04 million in 2018 and 2017, respectively.”

In the United States, meanwhile, January vehicle purchases fell sharply by 5.3% m/m in seasonally-adjusted terms as sales rebalance from a strong performance in the final third of 2018; sales contracted by 2.1% in year-on-year terms.

“The monthly percentage drop [in the U.S.] was the steepest since May 2011 with sales falling below the 17-million mark for the first time since August 2018 to 16.60 million units delivered,” the report said. “Adverse weather conditions in the Midwest and East Coast regions in the second half of January – and to a lesser degree, the government shutdown – may have weakened auto purchases beyond a softening from end-year sales activity. We project U.S. auto sales to tick down to 16.8 million units delivered from 2018’s total of 17.2 million units sold.”