First half data from Statistics Canada suggest that strong first quarter retail performance in the auto sector was followed by a distinct softening during the spring and summer months.
And while all metrics show increases over 2011, explains auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers, slower mid-year growth makes for an uncertain short-term outlook.
According to statistics, between January and June, Canadian new car dealers showed sales growth of 8.2 per cent relative to the same period in 2011. Amassing year-to-date sales of $42.5 billion during the first half of this year, more money has flowed through dealers in 2012 than in the corresponding months of any of the previous five years.
Sales growth averaged 11 per cent during the first quarter but slowed by half to an average of 5.5 per cent during the second quarter.
Trends among dealers of used vehicles, recreation vehicles and auto parts mirrored those in the new vehicle sector. From average increases of 7.6 per cent during the first quarter of 2012, growth declined to 2.9 per cent during the second quarter. The total value of retail sales in these subsectors outpaced previous years’ results, with first half sales breaching $10 billion.
Gasoline stations also experienced strong second quarter growth declines. From a five per cent year-over year average between January and March 2012, growth slowed to just 1.6 per cent during the second quarter. With a year-to-date sales increase of 3.3 per cent, gasoline station retail sales growth is on track for an annual growth rate below that seen in either of the past two years.