Analysts: February Auto Sales Could Be Best Since 2002

Feb 26, 2015 01:00 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

The American auto industry continues to enjoy strong sales, with the February reports looming for next week on pace to constitute the best sales for that month since 2002.

When February sales are posted on Tuesday, the month is forecast to be the 12th month in a row of year-over-year gains for sales in the United States, Automotive News reported.

Sales are expected to be as much as 9 percent higher than those in February 2014, according to analysis from TrueCar, LMC Automotive and Kelley Blue Book.

A renewed economy with falling unemployment and a strong stock market has helped to boost sales. Buyers are also opting for more leasing deals, with leasing constituting a record 27.4 percent of retail sales in the first 11 days of February.

"Strength at the start of 2015 is a key factor in keeping the industry on target to surpass annual vehicle sales of 17 million units for the first time since 2001," Jeff Schuster, LMC's senior vice president of forecasting, said in a statement quoted by Automotive News.

"Given all the positive factors, including the economy, gas prices and fresh new products in showrooms, rain clouds are expected to stay out of the auto sales forecast for the duration of 2015."

One area that hasn't had such sunny days--literally or figuratively--is New England. Boston had almost two-thirds of its 100 inches of snow this winter in the month of February alone, and snowstorms throughout the area slumped auto sales.

In an average February, Colonial Volkswagen in Medford, Mass., should expect to sell around 120 cars. This month? Just 37.

"Literally, there's nobody," general manager Ken Cataldo, told the Boston Globe. "I've never seen anything like it. This has been the worst two weeks of my life."

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