With about 66% of our August sales data collected, the number of used retail sales per dealership is already at 85% of July’s total. Based on this unexpectedly high volume, we estimate August’s retail sales per rooftop will come in at 5.5 trucks - 0.8 higher than July, and the highest result since last May. We consider this increase a moderate surprise, as we expected volume to stay under the 5.0 level for the rest of the year, and no fundamental factors are supporting notable changes in demand.

When an unexpected change is uncovered, we first need to look at new truck orders and deliveries to see if demand has changed. Generally, a good month for new trucks is a good month for used trucks. August’s new truck orders were moderately above expectations, and a healthy increase over July’s. However, this August was still 35% lower than last August. As for deliveries, figures were not yet available at the time of this writing, but there are no factors pointing to a disproportional increase. Next, we look at economic conditions to see if any trucking-focused measures have changed. That was generally not the case in August. We then look at whether any large packages of identical trucks were reported sold, which could artificially impact our averages. That was also not the case this month. Finally, seasonality can be a factor later in the year, as buyers acquire additional capacity before the holidays and take advantage of year-end tax incentives. However, August is probably too early for that factor to be in play. As such, our working theory at the moment is buyers may be getting off the fence to a limited extent as pricing continues to drop to attractive levels.

One month does not make a trend, so September’s numbers will help us flesh out any change in conditions. Stay tuned.