Edmunds.com:December sales could be the highest non Cash for Clunker month of the year.

Car Sales Surged at December’s End, Edmunds.com Reports
JANUARY 4, 2010

Car shopping on Edmunds.com surged in the waning days of December, prompting the Web site to suggest sales for the month may come in higher than previously expected – and could be the highest non Cash for Clunker month of the year.

“The industry potentially could reach a seasonal sales rate of 11.7 million vehicles in December, given the current site traffic trend,” noted Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell.

“Our Web site activity is through the roof,” added Caldwell. “That makes sense as there are so many bargain-hunters scrambling to get year-end deals and cash in on the sales tax deduction opportunity that expires on December 31st.”

An improving economy likely has helped as well. Edmunds.com Web activity in late December is 60 percent higher than the histocial pattern for the period. Brands enjoying particularly strong activity are BMW, Ford, Honda and General Motors’ Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn brands.

History suggests that the type of Edmunds.com visitor activity tracked for this study typically has a strong correlation to actual sales.

Site activity is up across the board. However, some brands experienced better than average interest in the last days of the month compared with the first three weeks of December. Among them:

BMW – Activity increase nearly 70 percent, likely due to its heavily publicized “BMW Joy Sales Event” and its television ads, obviously poking fun at competitor Lexus with a BMW blasting away leaving the big red bow in its wake.

Chevrolet – Activity increased nearly 85 percent, likely due to “Red Tag” event that includes “Holiday Cash” and zero-percent financing for 72 months on such popular models at the Chevrolet Malibu.

Ford – Activity increased nearly 100 percent; may be due to “Ford Year-End Sales Event.”

Honda – Activity increased nearly 100 percent; may be due to increased advertising of “Happy Honda Days.”

Pontiac, Saturn – Activity for GM’s soon-to-be-oprhaned brands soared, likely due to the immense amount of media hype regarding close-out deals. Pontiac saw more than 10 times as much activity; Saturn nearly 10 times as much. — Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst and Editor at Large

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