Local auto sales continued their winning streak in July.
Franchised new-car dealers reported selling 4,775 vehicles, up 7 percent from a year ago, the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association said. It was the fourth straight year-over-year increase in monthly sales for area dealers.
Through the first seven months, local reported sales were up 4.1 percent from the same period in 2011, to 30,706.
Ford’s 14 area dealers led among the brands reporting their sales totals, with 931 units. The total was down 9 percent from 1,022 in July 2011. Ford fared better nationally, reporting its U.S. retail sales in July rose 2 percent from a year ago. (Chevrolet does not report sales figures.)
Toyota, Nissan and Honda each posted strong gains over July 2011. In summer 2011, Japan-based brands were coping with inventory disruptions caused by the Japan earthquake and tsunami, affecting their sales a year ago.
Nissan locally recorded a 42 percent gain over a year ago, to 499 units. Joe Caldarelli, president of Mike Barney Nissan, said his Amherst dealership has benefited from a combination of strong Nissan products like the Altima, a change in dealership management to emphasize volume sales, and a bigger advertising push.
“I don’t think it’s going to let up,” he said. “We expect the next couple of months to all be bell ringers.”
Caldarelli said he and other area Nissan dealers have made headway in a market long associated with domestic brands like GM and Ford.
Of the leading brands that reported sales locally, seven had increases over a year ago, three reported declines, and one was unchanged.
Nationally, U.S. vehicle sales increased in July, but concerns persist about high unemployment and shaky consumer confidence impeding higher sales. National sales remained on track to exceed 14 million units this year, which would exceed last year’s 12.8 million units. And many observers believe sales will be fueled by a need to replace older cars, given the average age of vehicles now on the road.
“It’s good to see the business starting to come back,” said Paul Stasiak, president of the local auto dealers association. “Maybe the rest of the country has been having bigger increases, but we’ve been steady.”
Stasiak said uncertainty around issues like unemployment has been a factor for some consumers. But he said leasing has had a positive effect. “A lot more people now are considering a lease that never did before.”