With about 95% of our November retail data collected (the holiday season generally results in some late reporting), both four-year-old sleepers and the sleeper market overall look to have trended slightly downward from October. We have collected all of our expected data from the dealer channel, and can report that sales volume from that source was down substantially from October.

Four-year-old sleepers are down about $3700 from their previous peak in August on a mileage-adjusted basis. Compared to last month, the segment is down $1000. These trucks have been essentially flat since the beginning of the year, but they have also seen a steep increase in average mileage each month. Specifically, November’s mileage was almost a full 100,000 higher than January’s (although it was only about 25,000 higher than August’s). Given the mileage increases, we consider the price decreases minor. Buyers continue to establish a comfort level with what they will pay for trucks of a given mileage. On a historical basis, late-model trucks remain extremely strong.

Looking at the sleeper market overall, we see a minor decrease of about $600, following an essentially flat October. Although minor, November’s decrease was the first of the year. Average mileage was up by just over 30K vs. October, but October’s mileage was actually lower than September’s, so we do not consider the increase to have had a meaningful impact on price. Basically, we’re considering the September-November period to have been essentially flat in terms of pricing.

On the sales volume side, retail sales from the dealer channel were down 19% from October. As you may recall, October’s volume was down 6% from September. We saw a similar slowdown late last year, and we suspect there is some seasonality in the marketplace. This seasonality is likely amplified this year by the impending change to the Section 179 tax code, which will provide reduced benefit for new and used truck purchases in 2012. This factor almost certainly prompted many buyers to complete the bulk of their acquisitions before the end of the fiscal year. In addition, other factors that have influenced the market all year are still in play. Sales volume is still at the mercy of the supply of trucks entering the secondary market. And fleets continue to sell their used iron on their own, bypassing the dealer channel.

We expect pricing and volume to regain some upward momentum in early 2012. Stay tuned for an expanded analysis of this and other data early next week in the January GuideLines.