Interest rates impacting spring selling season

High interest rates are curtailing the spring selling season.

vAuto data shared this week by Cox Automotive shows used retail transactions declined for the first time in nine weeks, falling 6 percent at the end of March. Used retail sales are up 7 percent year over year.

“It looks we’ve already seen the peak in vehicle sales this spring,” said Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at Cox Automotive. “While interest rates came down slightly in March, they are still near 24-year highs and consumers just don’t have the urgency to buy with the expectation that rates will be lower later this year.”

Auto finance rates continue to be elevated. Used auto rates were at 14.18 percent in March, which was a small decline from of 41 basis points from a 24-year peak of 14.59 percent in February.

The used inventory is up slightly from March 2023 levels. The days of supply is at 42 days.

Use retail prices are down 5.5 percent since the start of 2024.

During its first quarter market report, Cox Automotive noted the flattening of CPO sales due to inventory constraints. CPO sales are expected to finish the year at 2.7 million.

The forecast for the entire used market is projected at 36.6 million. Used retail sales are projected at 19.6 million.

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