Incoming sales data suggests that the nation’s truck dealers struggled to sell used trucks in November. With approximately 50% of our November data collected, retail used truck sales per rooftop are running at 4.6. This figure is 1.6 trucks (or 25.8%) lower than October, and 1.4 trucks (or 23.3%) under the year-to-date average of 6.0. We expect reports from our remaining large dealer groups to bump up that average a bit, but it is unlikely the measure will hit 5.0.

As you can see from the graph below, the second half of 2013 has seen swings in volume orders of magnitude greater than in 2012. Qualitative research has provided a number of valid potential factors behind this wild ride, including the government shutdown, severe weather, sticker shock over the high price of late-model trucks, and Section 179 tax benefits moving some buyers to new instead of used. However, most of these factors were also in play in 2012 to varying degrees. 

The most major difference between the two periods is the average price of a used truck, which turned notably upward in early 2013 and is now running 5.5% ahead of 2012 year-to-date. November pricing is not yet clear, but based on recent down months, it is likely that the newest model years were responsible for the decrease in volume. This is another way of saying high pricing may have kept some buyers on the sidelines this month.

Stay tuned for final November pricing results next week.