Word of mouth from dealers is trending toward the negative when it comes to sales volume, with some dealers reporting that September was an unusually weak month. However, in aggregate, our September database does not show a drastic decrease in volume compared to August.
As of today, we’ve collected about 70% of our retail sales data from the dealer channel. We estimate that September will come in at 5.5-5.7 trucks per dealership, for a decrease vs. August in the low single digits percentagewise (see graph).
After a relatively strong first quarter, sales took a notable dip in May, rebounding moderately in June to 5.8 trucks per dealership. Since June, volume has trended towards the mid-5’s. Our position has been that this middling performance is mainly a supply issue, driven by the lack of sleeper tractors with under 600,000 miles available in the marketplace. On the demand side, the Presidential election, uncertainty about the financial cliff, mixed manufacturing data, and traditional seasonality are all relevant factors. However, these factors did not suddenly come on line in September. In addition, new truck orders rebounded moderately in August and September, indicating the industry is far from flatlining. As such, we see sales volume trending flat to mildly downwards for the remainder of the year.